PANAMA CITY, Panama – FC Dallas arrived in Panama this afternoon for a pivotal Group C matchup in CONCACAF Champions League play. A win will put the Texas club in good position to advance to the knockout round of the prestigious international tournament, while a loss could prove fatal to the team’s hopes.
VISIT THE FC DALLAS CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HEADQUARTERS
But at 7:30 this morning, little was on the mind of the FC Dallas players beyond a cup of coffee and a bagel. The team departed from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport’s D Terminal around 9 a.m. on a Sun Country flight bound for Central America, and were joined by FC Dallas front office staff and season ticket holders who purchased a special travel package.
But the extra crowd didn’t disturb the Dallas players, who each had their own row of seats for the four-hour flight.
“The flight was pretty good because we got to stretch out a little,” said midfielder Andrew Jacobson after arriving in Panama. “That makes a big difference because it’s a long trip.”
The players showed little signs of wear and tear after touch down, as they were greeted by men and women wearing traditional Panamanian clothing and serving local delicacies after passing through customs. One player in particular arrived to the excitement of local press – speedy forward Marvin Chavez, whose native Honduras is close enough to make him well-known to Panamanian soccer fans.
PHOTOS: FCD arrive and train in Panama ahead of critical CCL fixture
A quick ride to the hotel aboard a heavily-tapestried bus ensued, followed by a bit of down time before heading to Tauro FC’s stomping grounds, Estadio Rommel Fernandez. The muggy 90 degree weather had the group sweating almost immediately.
“It’s good to get out here and get a hard sweat in and get all that flight out of you,” said Jacobson, who, though well-traveled, was impressed with his surroundings. “It’s a beautiful city. You’ve got the canal right there, and it’s a well-developed city. I didn’t realize how nice it is, it’s right on the water. It’s gorgeous from the hotel room, we’ve got a great view.”
Jacobson and most of the usual FC Dallas lynchpins were joined by some newer faces on this trip, including four of the FC Dallas Home Growns: Bryan Leyva, Moises Hernandez, Victor Ulloa and Ruben Luna. The four have been pressed into service in the absence of team captain Daniel Hernandez, midfielder Jackson and flanker Brek Shea, who are all out for tomorrow’s match due to yellow card accumulation.
“We’re very happy for the opportunity, it means a lot to us,” said Leyva following the light training session. “We feel ready for it, and if the chance comes we’ll make the best of it to help the team.”
That chance could come tomorrow night at 7 p.m. when FC Dallas takes on their Panamanian counterparts (FOX Soccer). Despite the new surroundings and a chance for rain, Jacobson said the team will be intent on the task at hand.
“Tauro is very physical, very fast, a hard-working team. I think it’s going to be one of those things where matching that is our first step to winning the game,” Jacobson said. “We’ve got to go out there and match every bit of intensity that they bring, and then hopefully the soccer takes over from there.
“We’re absolutely going for three here.”
Check back with FCDallas.com all week-long for more coverage from Panama City.