FRISCO, Texas – When FC Dallas embarked on a three-game, two-week Western Conference road trip in the middle of August, they had to wonder if their season would still be alive upon returning to Frisco.
What awaited them was a daunting stretch of more than 7,500 miles spread over two separate trips to the West Coast for away games against three Western Conference playoff contenders in Vancouver, Real Salt Lake and LA.
“It’s a big country,” midfielder Andrew Jacobson deadpanned on Wednesday. “Especially being in Dallas and you play in the West. It’s just every team seems to be pretty far and they have different time zones, too.”
While they disappointingly fell to the Galaxy on Sunday, six points in wins at RSL and Vancouver meant that Wednesday’s return to the adidas Training Field at FC Dallas Stadium was a relatively happy one. Even better for FCD, they don’t hit the road again for a month.
Crucial home games against Seattle and Vancouver await Dallas in September, with a friendly against Liga MX side Club León sandwiched in the middle.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Jacobson said. “We’re still in the hunt and right there. We get a chance to play Seattle and then everyone obviously knows we're chasing Vancouver. It’s a great chance for us and I think everyone knows it and senses it.”
The truth is that time is running out for Dallas, who need to make up a five-point gap on the Whitecaps with six games to play. But should they find wins over Seattle and Vancouver in their next two league matches, the playoffs will certainly be within reach.
It’s a tough ask, but one they’ll take after falling as many as 11 points out of a playoff spot last month.
“I think with the team we have and the talent we have, we’re pretty good with our backs against the wall,” said Jacobson about an FCD team that probably needs to win five of their last six. “There’s really nothing to lose now. It’s all or nothing and I think we have the guys that can step up.”
While you always want to play the matches at home, for goalkeeper Kevin Hartman it’s those upcoming inter-conference games that are the real focus, no matter where they play them.
“I’m less concerned about where we are in terms of location,” Hartman told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday, “and more concerned about where we are in the table and how much time we have left.”
Still, the chance to sleep at home and not have any midweek matches for the rest of the season is one that Jacobson is looking forward to.
“I forget what it’s like to just play on Saturdays," he said.