FRISCO, Tex. – Having spent much of the 2016 season atop the Supporters' Shield Race, FC Dallas aren’t used to carrying negative momentum with them, particularly following a home game.
But just three days before the biggest game of their season – a chance to bring a trophy home for the first time in 19 years via the 2016 US Open Cup final against the New England Revolution (Tuesday, 10 pm ET, ESPN2, UDN | MLS LIVE in Canada) – FCD showed a chink in their armor at what they call “Fortress Frisco,” losing at home over the weekend for the first time since August 2015.
Head coach Oscar Pareja, however, isn’t concerned.
“With this group of players, I have learned how to change the mode quick enough just to be concentrated on the next game,” Pareja said when asked how he gets them to move past Saturday’s 1-0 home loss so quickly. “We all have the philosophy that we’re going one game at a time, and that every game brings different stories. We need to be prepared for what is happening tomorrow.”
The quick turnaround isn’t bothering Pareja or his players either. Pareja says although his team is young, they’ve had to juggle an intense schedule since day one, balancing three different competitions and the scheduling challenges that come with them – not to mention a handful of players being called to international duty.
“This group has learned, especially this year, to move on in the competitions from one competition to the other one,” Pareja said. “I’d say that many of our players as well as adding another competition with the national team qualifying is heavy and tough, and they’ve been able to do that. Being in the [Open] Cup, being in the CONCACAF [Champions League], being in the league and then the [national team] qualifications in the same month, the team has learned to do it.”
Though it’s just one home loss, it’s the exact opposite momentum that their opponents from New England are bringing to Toyota Stadium. The Revolution are coming into Frisco on a two-game winning streak – one of those wins coming over the same Colorado team that knocked off FC Dallas at on Saturday.
But even New England head coach Jay Heaps isn’t buying into the notion that there is blood in the water after a rare, but recent, FC Dallas home loss.
“We have to prepare for this from their body of work.,” Heaps said. “I think everyone knows how good Dallas is here at home. You look at ways you have to set yourself up to play against them, and I think for us, we want to focus on trying to put the game to the best of our abilities. If you try to play too much against Dallas, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you’re going to get overrun.”
FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz said after Saturday’s loss he was in fact excited to have a quick turnaround, saying it gives the team a chance to not dwell on the Colorado loss.
To Pareja the three-day break between games doesn’t make a difference, considering the way he says his team has adapted the “next game” mentality all season.
“We learn from every experience – the positive and the ones that are not, and we keep adding those experiences to what we want,” Pareja said. “This team is very strong in that sense.”