FC Dallas vs. Real Esteli FC | 2016-17 CCL Match Preview

August 4, 2016 (CONCACAF Champions League)
8 pm ET (UDN | Facebook.com)

FC Dallas have to take care of business against Nicaragua's dominant club on Thursday at Toyota Stadium, in the CONCACAF Champions League opener for both teams. Opponent Real Estelí have plenty of CCL experience, but little success -- and Dallas is in form right now, atop the Western Conference race and leading the Supporters' Shield standings.

A match before resting

Dallas manager Oscar Pareja has to manage his roster over three separate competitions now -- and he's the only MLS manager in that position down the MLS homestretch. In addition to league and CCL play, Pareja also has his team in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Given all that, Pareja could elect to use his depth against the visitors on Thursday -- but he's also alone among MLS coaches in CCL play, in that his team doesn't play again until the middle of next week. Given that, Pareja could come out with everything he's got and look to rack up a big goal differential.

Been here before

FC Dallas have plenty of experience in regional competition -- but they're still looking for their first trip to a knockout round in four tries. They went out in the group stage of two now-defunct tournaments, the 1998 CONCACAF Cup Winners Cup and the 2007 North American SuperLiga. In the 2011-12 CCL, which included preliminary rounds before the group stage, FC Dallas beat Salvadoran side Alianza home and away in the prelims and started the group stage 2-0-1 -- only go stumble to an 0-3 record the rest of the way.

Really been here before

If there's a CCL record for persistence, Real Estelí surely have earned it many times over. This will be their sixth time in the tournament, their fourth in a row -- and despite their domestic success, with 13 top-flight league championships (including a CONCACAF-record eight straight from 2008-14) and one domestic cup title, they've never won a match in CCL play.