FRISCO - Theodore Roosevelt once said "Believe you can, and you're halfway there."
That's one of the messages Oscar Pareja is preaching to his side - and even all three MLS teams beginning their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal journeys - as the team continues their deepest-ever international competition run on Thursday night against Panamanian side Arabe Unido.
In the knockout round for the first time, FC Dallas is in uncharted waters, but Pareja knows his team is good and knows they are capable of a historic run.
"The first thing is that we have to have not just the optimism, but the work, belief in that work and the conviction that we can match the Mexican teams and best Central American teams in the competition," Pareja told reporters at a Tuesday press conference. "First, we need to be convinced of that and put the excuses aside in terms of the schedule, calendar, lack of competition. We just need to find a way to do it. We’re not going to use anything as an excuse. We are well prepared. We have had good matches. The boys are ready and eager."
Dallas is looking to become the first MLS team to win the competition in its current form and become the first MLS team to advance to the FIFA Club World Cup. Since the current format was introduced in 2008, five MLS teams have advanced to the semifinals and two teams have advanced to the finals. The 2016-2017 offseason was perhaps the strongest ever for MLS sides adding more and more depth and talent through new initiatives like Targeted Allocation Money, and Pareja insists that MLS sides are ready to take that final step.
"My own philosophy here and the philosophy of the club is we have to be convinced that we are good," said Pareja. "We went to Argentina and the boys competed against the best teams in Argentina and they did well. I know sometimes they get surprised [thinking] ‘we’re good.’ Well American players and American soccer is very good, but we have to believe on that."
FC Dallas faces off against Arabe Unido at 7:00PM on Thursday with the match shown on Univision Deportes and CONCACAF Facebook Live. (TICKETS)