FRISCO, Texas – “One game at a time” has long been the popular sports mantra of teams wanting to narrow their focus on the next opponent without looking too far ahead.
FC Dallas have lost that luxury.
With five matches left and five points away from a playoff spot, FCD are faced with having to take maximum points out of their remaining three home matches to give themselves any realistic shot at the postseason.
Dallas have seen their strong start to the season – six wins in their first eight matches – nullified by a rocky stretch of late which includes losses in their last two matches, dropping them all the way down to eighth place in the Western Conference.
“[It’s] do or die, really,” rookie Kellyn Acosta told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. "We have to win every [home] game to get into the playoffs."
FCD's task was made that much more difficult after surprise road wins by fellow playoff contenders Vancouver and San Jose, allowing both teams to leapfrog Dallas in the table. Head coach Schellas Hyndman did not expect their conference rivals to topple Montreal and Real Salt Lake, respectively.
The results served to complicate an already dire situation heading into their Sunday home match against Columbus (8:30 pm ET; MLS Live).
“We had talked about when we had eight games left to win four, maybe stretch it to five or gets some ties, and we started off great with a win, but then we lost the next two,” Hyndman said. “I think we’re at that phase where we have three home games against good teams and we’ve got to get results.
"We put ourselves into this position where the games are getting desperate, and we’ll see if it can bring the best out of us.”
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Forward Blas Pérez said the mid-season swoon that saw the club go three months without a league victory has put them in a difficult hole. But he believes they can scale the pit and that the team still has the quality to do some damage if they can sneak into the postseason.
But first things first.
“We’ve got to start on Sunday by winning against Columbus,” the Panamanian forward told reporters through an interpreter. “We’ve got to win games, we’ve got to win games. That’s all. We’ve got to win games.”
Matt Barbour covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com.