8.7 Playoff Push article DL
USA Today

FC Dallas Embarks on Final 10-Game Stretch in Playoff Push

FRISCO – FC Dallas has reached a pivotal point in its 2019 season. The team resides in seventh place in the West, with perennial conference rivals Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo nipping at its heels, vying for that final playoff place. Now, with 10 games remaining, FCD embarks on the most important stretch of the season—one that will likely define the first year of the Luchi Gonzalez era.

“It is going to define our season,” defender Reggie Cannon said on the final 10-game stretch. “It’s if we make playoffs or not. These home games are going to be huge. If we win all five games at home, we’ll be in a great position to make playoffs. Getting those away points are going to be huge as well, but we really have to focus on protecting this house right now.”

After being held scoreless in three of its last four games, FCD has developed a goal-drought at exactly the wrong time. However, with five home and five away matches left, Dallas has a chance to reverse its recent form and gain momentum for the final playoff push—starting with Saturday’s faceoff against second-place Minnesota United.

“They’re good in transition, counters, they’ve got some speed and athleticism, and some individual talent that can hurt you on the break,” Gonzalez said of Minnesota. “We’re hungry for this next step. We can’t look ahead in terms of the playoff line, above or below the line, we need to take care of the next step which is tomorrow’s training and getting ready for the opportunity we have here at home in front of our fans on Saturday.”

But if Dallas is going to get back to winning ways against a red-hot Minnesota team and build momentum for the final stretch of the season, it must improve on recent performances.

“It’s going to be tough, but I have no doubt that these last 10 games are where players are going to find some changes,” Cannon said. “Find themselves a little bit more, find what they need, what the team needs. That’s important because this change is really what’s going to help this club get the next level.”

The head coach is aware of the need for change as well; and he’s pinpointed the issue that’s disrupted Dallas’ goal-scoring form over the last few weeks.

“I think we’re giving the opposition too much time to set and to reorganize,” Gonzalez said. “We’re developing, through our experiences, the sense to be free in the attack to take more risk, to get numbers forward and go for it. You can’t force that, it has to come naturally. We’ve yet to show our best. I really look forward for us showing our best and we’re going got keep working to show our best.”

FC Dallas has hovered in the thick of the playoff spots for much of the season. While its recent goal-scoring struggles have seen it fall to seventh place, the final 10-game stretch offers a chance for Gonzalez and company to define themselves in what’s been a season of change and evolution.

“It’s the most important [span of games] because it’s in front of us,” Gonzalez said. “I couldn’t say this at the beginning of the season, but if we were mathematically in the position to make the playoffs at this point of the season—with all the evolution and adjustments—I think it wouldn’t be a bad deal or option to take. But we’re very hungry right now. I know we can still show more and show better and that’s really exciting for these players and my staff and myself.”