FRISCO, Texas -- FC Dallas has opened the season with a home-heavy schedule, playing five of its first seven matches at Toyota Stadium. That made establishing a home-field advantage imperative to getting a strong start out of the gate, but the team readily admits they're not solely responsible for the impressive 4-1-0 record they've posted in Frisco in 2014.
In fact, it was the first thing head coach Oscar Pareja addressed to the media after his team's big win on Saturday night.
"I want to start with this, because the players talked about it as soon as they got back to the locker room, and that’s the great job the front office is doing with the fans, and the incredible job the fans are doing with this franchise right now," FCD head coach Oscar Pareja said after his team's 2-1 win over Toronto FC Saturday night. "They help us a lot. I will say that they were pushing (us) all the time and that was great. We felt that energy in the second half when we needed it."
Toyota Stadium has seen annual attendance figures rise steadily over the last several years, and FC Dallas fans are on pace to break last year's franchise attendance record in 2014. The impact of the ever-increasing crowds isn't lost on the players.
WATCH: The Rewind pres. by Toyota
"It’s one of those things where you can see [the other] team’s cramping and different stuff and our guys are just energized and it’s from the fans," said veteran center back Stephen Keel. "You can’t help it when you’ve got 17,000 people, you’ve got all the supporters groups cheering for you."
And beyond being energized by the crowd, Panamanian stirker Blas Perez said the best way for the team to show gratitude for the passionate fans is by continuing to provide them with positive results.
"The way for us to thank the fans is to keep winning," Perez said after the game on Saturday. "We’re working hard to play and get a win so we can pay back the crowd for coming and supporting us."
As a former Dallas Burn player, perhaps no one has a better perspective on the growth of the fan base in Dallas than Pareja. Having witnessed the evolution of the Beautiful Game in Big D firsthand since the late 90's, the Colombian manager can't help but feel that bigger things are on the horizon.
"(The fans) are playing with us. They’re our number 12," said Pareja. "I have been here for many years and this is the time I feel (the fans’ presence) the most.
"This is a credit for them, really, because this is their team. This is their atmosphere. If we continue with this and them pushing that hard, I don’t have any doubt that a lot of good things are going to happen here."