FC Dallas opens up their CONCACAF Champions League campaign Thursday night against Nicaraguan side Real Estelí FC. FC Dallas hasn’t appeared in CCL play since 2011, but have the opportunity to advance past the group stage for the first time in team history. Prior to Thursday’s game, here’s all you need to know about our opponent from Central America.
Real Estelí: CCL Regulars
Despite having never won a CCL game, this is Real Estelí’s sixth all-time CCL appearance and fifth in the last six years. The team has finished third in the group stage three times, but have struggled to make much noise. “El Tren” are 0-11-5 all-time in CCL play, with a -19 goal differential, having given up 25 goals while scoring six. However, Real Estelí is more acceptable against MLS teams, going 0-4-3, including the 2014/15 season when the team went 0-1-1 against Sporting Kansas City and registered multiple results for the first time ever, going 0-2-2 in their group. Real Estelí likes to keep it close as 12 of their 16 all-time CCL games have been decided by one goal or fewer.
Real Estelí: Players to Watch
The side is led by three forwards –– Samuel Wilson, Carlos Chavarria and Luis Galeano –– who combined to score 56 goals in the team’s 2015/16 domestic season in the Primera Division. Wilson has 13 career CCL starts, bringing plenty of experience to his squad.
FC Dallas’ Key to Three Points
Real Estelí is a tournament regular, but have never achieved success. Despite FC Dallas being the less-experienced side –– Zach Loyd and Fabian Castillo are the only players on the team's roster who appeared in matches during the team’s 2011 CCL campaign –– the home-field advantage should be enough for FC Dallas to find success. The Nicaraguans are 0-7-1 all-time on the road in CCL play, scoring just two goals while allowing 15. FCD’s speed and depth will likely make the difference on the road, adding with the team’s current form –– having lost just one game in their last ten in all competitions.