FRISCO, Texas --- How big was Saturday night in the history of FC Dallas? It doesn’t get much bigger.
Not only did the Hoops beat the Chicago Fire 3-0 to clinch their first playoff spot since 2007, but Jeff Cunningham’s penalty kick goal in the 67th minute tied him with D.C. United’s Jaime Moreno for most goals in MLS history with 132 tallies.
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Furthermore, FCD extended their unbeaten streak to 18 games, which ties the 2004 Columbus Crew for the longest streak during a single season in league history.
And to boot, Schellas Hyndman’s club also clinched the Brimstone Cup for a 10th straight year with the win over Chicago.
“I thought they had an excellent game, a good performance. We just won the Brimstone Cup again, so it stays in our trophy case,” Hyndman said. “That was a big thing we talked about this week. What a great night for FC Dallas.”
Just two players, midfielder Dax McCarty and goalkeeper Dario Sala, remain from that team that clinched FCD’s last playoff berth with a 3-1 win at Columbus back on Oct. 6, 2007.
“It’s definitely a relief. The feeling in the locker room after the game was a little bit of relief and a lot of excitement,” McCarty said. “Clearly, the unbeaten streak is nice, but our goal from day one of preseason was to make the playoffs. We knew we were a good team and had enough talented players to get there. It just feels good to know we’re in the playoffs with a couple of games to go.”
Cunningham elected not to speak to the media, saying he will break his silence once he breaks Moreno’s record. But that didn’t stop Hyndman from gushing about his forward, who now has 11 goals in 2010, including four from the penalty spot.
“That’s fantastic. It’s not been an easy year for Jeff. He’s been out of form [and] hasn’t been in the Starting 11,” Hyndman said. “I think what you see now is the true character of Jeff Cunningham. He’s coming off the bench and he’s still in the position to be scoring goals. It speaks volumes for him as a soccer player and it speaks volumes about his character.”
This is also the first playoff berth for FCD under Hyndman, who took the job in June 2008 after Steve Morrow was fired.
“We’ve worked so hard in the last two years to be in this position,” Hydnman said. “I’ve lost a lot of sleep. It’s been very stressful. Things didn’t go very well in the beginning. Until you get the right players on the field that are committed to the team’s objectives and committed to each other, these things won’t happen.
“Right now, it’s all about the team, the team chemistry, the hard work they put in for each other,” Hyndman added. “We wanted to develop a culture of winning. I think we have that here now.”