FRISCO - Toyota Stadium was a house of horrors for away teams in 2015 and FC Dallas is looking to take that momentum straight into Sunday's season opener.
With a record of 13 games won, 2 tied and 2 lost, FCD won 41 out of 51 points when playing in Toyota Stadium last season making FCD's home the MLS pitch in which away teams won the least points last season.
How do you improve on that? For FC Dallas Homegrown midfielder Victor Ulloa, the goal is simple: undefeated at home in 2016.
“We know we can win all of our matches here and we want to give our fans the win this Sunday,” he said. “The preseason is over, we’ve worked hard and were excited to start. We want to start fast, and get the win. We have to make opponents respect our home.”
Head Coach Oscar Pareja also knows about the importance of making visitors respect Toyota Stadium, and of course, winning this weekend.
“We know other teams have a degree of respect when they’re visiting Frisco. Playing here has been favorable for us. We’re working hard to keep it that way,” he said. “We try to have the initiative and to be aggressive when we’re home. We know it’s always important to start with a win… and also end with one too. But, I think that [winning the first match] is fundamental.”
For Ulloa, a fundamental aspect for winning at home are the fans, and the role they play in helping the team win.
“Truth is, when fans are chanting and screaming, it helps a lot,” he said. “Visiting teams have a hard time communicating on the field because of the noise, and that helps us a lot.”
Coach Pareja has seen fans’ help increase with the team’s success the last two seasons, but he believes a couple factors have grown fans’ engagement with the team.
“There’s a couple things that have brought fans together with our process in Frisco,” he said. “Undoubtedly, we’ve had two successful seasons, and they have been a part of us winning. The desire we all have to win a title and to fight for the MLS Cup is also a factor. And I think there’s a sense of belonging now with the younger fans with our young academy players. This is something very unique in the U.S., and it belongs to our fans in Dallas and Frisco. I believe that has made them committed [to the team].”
Fans' commitment has grown hand-in-hand with the team’s success, but being the perfectionist he is - and just as he asks more from his team every day in the search for a Championship - Pareja also wants to push FC Dallas fans to give more on match days to help them reach their goal.
“I’d like to see more flags,” he said. “I’d like to see a large Tifo with our best players, [a Tifo] that identifies our team with the city and it’s people. I’d like to hear them sing more. I’d like to see more youngsters commit to our club and engage with the match like fans are in other stadiums in other parts of the world. [I’d like to see] that young culture where kids are putting their mark on the team’s culture, and in their supporters groups and fan groups. That’s what I’d like to see.”