FRISCO – After a win that could be celebrated as the second most important of the season after September's US Open Cup triumph, a dark cloud hung over Toyota Stadium on Sunday night.
While beating Seattle 2-1 and watching Colorado fall in Portland – two results that put FC Dallas in position to win the Supporters' Shield with just one point on Decision Day next week – their chances at making a deep MLS Cup run potentially took a huge hit, with midfield stars Mauro Diaz and Kellyn Acosta both leaving the game due to injury.
Acosta left midway through the first half with a hip injury and was in the locker room on one crutch following the match, moving gingerly, while stating “I’ll be alright.”
Diaz is another story. A source close to the team said Diaz was taken to the hospital, likely receiving an MRI. While nobody could confirm the extent of the injury on Sunday, the concern was apparent on the faces of FC Dallas brass, ranging from head coach Oscar Pareja to technical director Fernando Clavijo and president Dan Hunt.
“I’m waiting,” Pareja said after the match. “But we need to protect our players. The friction tonight was too much. It’s sometimes not tangible. You can see it, but it’s one to another to another to another. Then you pay the price."
Diaz suffered a team-high four fouls in the match and didn't get up off the ground on the last foul in second-half stoppage time, a bump from behind by Seattle's Tyrone Mears.
"I'm very hurt because he's a friend, a teammate," Dallas forward Maxi Urruti told Goal.com on Sunday. "It hurts because now we have a teammate who could be out for months and the truth is it hurts us a lot because he's a very important player."
"There were a lot of late tackles or tackles were coming in through the man to get to the ball – especially on our No. 10 and playmakers,” said Dallas defender Ryan Hollingshead. “That’s for sure tactical on their part. They’re not doing that by accident. That’s not a guy accidentally getting through the man to get to the ball – that’s a gameplan right there.
“It’s every referee’s job anywhere in the entire world to protect the players and make the game run smoothly,” Hollingshead continued. “It looked like we may have picked up a couple of injuries in this game because of late tackles and guys getting crushed trying to get through to the ball, and at some point that needs to be stopped.”
Pareja said he would know more early in the week about the specifics regarding the injuries to Diaz and Acosta and he did not want to speculate without having more concrete information.
“In spite of all the friction we received and contact that resulted in injuries,” Pareja said, “our players were humble enough to continue the game and keep pushing.”