A point from a midweek road trip would normally be deemed a net positive for most teams across Major League Soccer.

But given their push to make the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez wasn’t left satisfied from their 3-3 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday night.

FCD are 10th in the Western Conference standings and just three points below the fateful postseason line before Wednesday’s mammoth eight-game slate gets underway. But they’ve played two more games than those they’re jostling with, so the gap could soon expand.

“No, not happy with the point. We need to win,” Gonzalez said in his postgame media availability. “It's that point of the season where we're not going to have a playoff picture if we don't make these games our playoffs. And that's our mentality, we came here with an expectation and a desire to win.

“I think we showed that in our character, I think we showed that in our personality and our energy, our intensity, our fight, our ability to respond when we were down. But at the end of the day, it fell short of three points which is the only result we came here to get.”


FC Dallas have made the playoffs three years running, though defensive frailties could be their undoing in 2021. Their 40 goals allowed are worst in the Western Conference and narrowly better than current would-be Wooden Spoon winners Toronto FC league-wide. Their struggles mirror deeper analytics, with Stats Perform data putting FCD at 41.09 expected goals against this season.

That issue reared its head at NYCFC, as winger Jader Obrian began his brace in the fourth minute. But the hosts kept punching back, beating a backline that was missing normal anchors Ryan Hollingshead (foot injury) and Matt Hedges (substitute, rotation).

Even still, Gonzalez said they need to find ways to grind out results.

“We're conceding too many goals and I was making the point that we need to find a way to win 1-0,” Gonzalez said. “We scored the first goal and we need to expect ourselves to win 1-0. So tonight we have to win 4-3 if we were going to get a result and, man, it's hard to score four goals against New York City. So we need to improve our balance offensively, defensively. But that's the collective, it's not one single player, one single thing.”

One undoubted positive from FCD’s campaign is the emergence of now-US men’s national team forward Ricardo Pepi, who tallied an assist on Jesus Ferreira’s 63rd-minute goal. Ferreira now has four goals in their last four games, and Gonzalez said afterward that the homegrown can make an impact at the international level just like Pepi has.

Also on the homegrown front, midfielder Paxton Pomkyal is surging back into fitness and defender Justin Che is showing why there’s transfer buzz from Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

But Gonzalez is also well aware that FCD’s postseason fate hangs in the balance. And they need to get a result against Texas Derby rivals Houston Dynamo FC on Saturday at BBVA Stadium (9:30 pm ET | Univision, TUDN, Twitter).

“This is a hard league, this is a hard team to play tonight – I recognize that,” Gonzalez said. “These are not easy games, but if we score first I'm going to challenge our guys, myself, then we've got to find a way to win 1-0. And if they tie it, then we've got them too. So let's move forward and grab the positives and we've got to show more desperation to find a way to win at Houston now.”