Pareja attributes tight schedule in sitting FC Dallas stars in blowout loss

SEATTLE – The starting XI that FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja fielded for his team’s Wednesday evening road matchup with the Seattle Sounders wasn’t exactly his typical, first-choice lineup.

Far from it, actually.

Pareja opted to hold out several regular starters for his team’s 5-0 blowout loss to the Sounders, including speedy midfielders Michael Barrios and Fabian Castillo.

It was a move that seemed to irk Sounders coach Sigi Schmid in his halftime interview, but one that Pareja says was simply due to the current hectic schedule his team is dealing with – and not any indication that FCD was taking their opponent lightly.

“We needed to choose tonight. We have a game in three days at home,” Pareja said. “We just came from San Jose directly to Seattle. We have the Open Cup in the middle of [next] week – it’s an important tournament for us. Then after that, we have Colorado away.”

FCD never recovered from defender Maynor Figueroa’s early red card for a deliberate handball that gave the Sounders the lead in just the 4th minute, courtesy of a Clint Dempsey penalty kick.

The early blunder was as much to blame for Wednesday’s game spiraling out of control as the reserve-heavy lineup was, forward Tesho Akindele said. By the time Dempsey was ejected in the 33rd minute, FCD already trailed 3-0. 

“I think it was more the red card that we got early,” Akindele said. “Like we got a red card in the [fourth] minute, so it was always going to be hard to win the game.”

Although Pareja was disappointed with the thumping his team endured at the hands of the Sounders on Wednesday, he also said it should be put in perspective. Even with the loss, FCD are still Supporters’ Shield leaders with 37 points and a solid 11-6-4 record on the season.

“I have a group of players that has 37 points and nobody has given them those points,” Pareja said. “They have fought hard during the season and despite the terrible result, I back them up 100 percent.

“There’s a lot of work to do still, but I want to say that the group that I have in that locker room has put together 37 points. I’m very proud of those guys.”