When FC Dallas won a gritty, hard-fought 1-0 win in the rain at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah on the penultimate game of the 2015 regular season, the squad celebrated much more than normal because the win meant securing the top seed in the Western Conference and a spot in the 2016-2017 CONCACAF Champions League.
Fast forward over seven months and that journey begins on Monday with the CCL draw in Miami, Florida.
“It’s important for us to know obviously the calendar and our rivals,” said head coach Oscar Pareja. “We’re really looking forward to the competition. The boys are doing a tremendous job in the league now and we want to take that into international competition so we’re getting ready.”
Placed in a pot with three other MLS qualifiers and four teams from Liga MX, FC Dallas will likely be drawn with two teams from central America and the Caribbean, though there is a possibility of being placed with the Vancouver Whitecaps who qualified through the Canadian Championship thus being placed in a different pot.
“It’s a great opportunity. You’re facing the best from Central America with the chance to play powerful teams from Mexico and other great teams who have done well in the last year,” said Mauro Rosales who reached the CCL semifinals with Seattle Sounders FC in 2012.
This is the second time FC Dallas has qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League, though the format this time is considerably different in the past. FCD’s 2011 run saw the squad play eight matches through qualifying and group stage. This year, FCD will play four group stage matches, two home and two away, with the group winner advancing to the knockout round quarterfinals in February 2017.
“We’re built to do well in these tournaments. I think the roster got a lot deeper in the offseason and it was with the mindset of doing well in all competitions,” said Chris Seitz. “Obviously, we’ve had a good start to the season in league play but another competition starts soon with the draw and in a couple weeks we start Open Cup.”
The CCL draw will be broadcast live on Univision Deportes and on FCDallas.com at 7:00PM on Monday from Miami.
“We have a shot. We’re in it,” said Matt Hedges. “We’ve got the squad. We’ve got the depth. We’ve got everything we need to make a deep run… I mean that’s the Champions League, it’s where you want to be.”