FRISCO, Tex. – For FC Dallas, the goal was simple: do your job, and don’t worry about the rest.
After all, they could only control part of the Decision Day presented by AT&T equation: Get a result, and hope the other two teams in a three-team race for that coveted sixth spot in the Western Conference, the San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake, flounder.
Unfortunately for Dallas, a 5-1 rout of the LA Galaxy wasn’t enough to advance to the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs for a fourth straight season, with San Jose winning in stoppage time, just a minute before the final whistle blew in North Texas. Dallas and the Quakes finished level on points, but San Jose won the total wins tiebreaker to finish in sixth place.
“It was a moment that represents what the season has been for us. It was a roller-coaster,” FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja said of the match.
In the moment, Pareja dropped to his seat on the sideline after the Quakes scored their game-winner while FC Dallas were still playing.
“It started in the second minute, losing 1-0 in the game. Then after that, the character and effort made us bounce back and made for a great game, probably one of the best in the season. But it got cut short due to what happened during the season, and we have to take responsibility.”
Pareja said the one word that came to mind to sum up his post-match emotions was simply “frustration,” especially when players like Roland Lamah, Mauro Diaz, and Michael Barrios certainly did their parts.
Lamah had one of his best outings of the season, scoring twice and coming close to his second hat trick of the year. Diaz added a goal and two assists, while Barrios added a goal himself – all after falling behind in the second minute and giving fans a reason to believe the season was a wash.
The performance might have led to players patting themselves on the back, especially in a do-or-die situation. But the theme after finding out that San Jose had dashed their playoff hopes turned quickly into disappointment toward their entire 2017 season – not necessarily toward the Quakes taking care of business, but their own failings on the year.
“We did everything we could today to try and make it happen and get in, but unfortunately this is a result of not being able to take care of business in a couple of the previous games,” said defender Walker Zimmerman. “It’s what happens in this league. It’s tight, it’s close, and it comes down to a couple of minutes and couple plays, and we just didn’t get the job done.”
Added Matt Hedges, who scored the go-ahead goal: “It’s disappointing we had to leave it in the hands of other teams. We had plenty of opportunities to not do that, but we just didn’t get it done. I feel like one more result somewhere along the way there, and we get in. There’s a lot of reflecting to do in the offseason.”
It will be an offseason with unfamiliar questions for FC Dallas, having taken positive steps each of the last few seasons, but taking a step or two back following a long and tiresome 2017 that started in February in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“We have to congratulate San Jose for making a spot in the playoffs. And for us, it’s time to re-evaluate,” Pareja said. “I think the cycle here is done, and we need to sit down what’s happening next.”