"Series just got too far" from FC Dallas, who win Leg 2, but not by enough

FRISCO, Texas—With the odds stacked against them, FC Dallas showed they wouldn’t quit in their do-or-die matchup against Seattle Sounders FC.

But heart wasn’t enough this go-around.

“We didn’t have the luxury to allow one goal today,” said head coach Oscar Pareja. “That would just put us away from the game.”

Ultimately, the hole dug by a 3-0 loss in Leg 1 of their Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Semifinal proved too deep to escape. Despite defeating Seattle, 2-1, at Toyota Stadium, FCD failed to advance to the Western Conference Championship.

Before the Seattle goal, the hosts did exactly what Pareja and company set out to do – have a lead at halftime and continue to throw numbers forward to keep the pressure on Seattle’s backline.

“That was fantastic,” Pareja said. “The way they played, the way they executed the plan, it was great. Their effort, their willingness, the energy, the intensity, the volume of soccer, especially on the right, that was remarkable for the players. And it was working. We could have scored maybe three goals in the first half.”

But Nicolas Lodeiro dramtically changed the stakes with one quick tap-in, after defender Walker Zimmeman gave up the ball to Seattle fullback Tyrone Mears. Entering the game, Dallas needed a 3-0 result to draw extra time or a four-goal margin to advance, due to the away goals tiebreaker. 

“My message to the players [at half] was ‘Let’s just keep ourselves in the game. It’s going to come,’” Pareja said. “We just had to keep the balance and keep solid in the back. Unfortunately, we just gave that play where he got his goal, and as I said, the series just got too far from us.”

Said midfielder Mauro Rosales: “The effort was there. Nothing to regret. Obviously we made mistakes like we did in the first leg, not giving us a first chance. But at the same time, we believed in us, we believed in what we can do on our field, and doing what we need to do in these types of games.”

FC Dallas entered the game confident, having made late, dramatic comebacks this season throughout all three of their competitions.

Rosales and company were not surprised to come out swinging, earning that first goal and pushing momentum towards their favor.

“Everybody could see the commitment this team has,” Rosales said. “And the plan from the coaches was great.”

Lodeiro’s goal, however, ensured not even FC Dallas would make a comeback this go-around.

“It was a hill very high to climb today,” Pareja said. “We have to just humbly accept it.”