Busca la Forma. Find a way.
It’s the phrase Oscar Pareja has emblazoned on the entire FC Dallas organization in his three seasons as head coach. It’s the mentality the club has taken to pack 41 matches across three competitions this year to date - the most of any team in Major League Soccer. It’s how the club has excelled through all three, capturing it’s first title in 19 years in September and is on the cusp of their second less than six weeks later. And it’s how the team will head into the coming weeks in search of a third, without their dynamic No. 10.
“If it wasn't for him, I don't think this club or this team is in the place we are right now. He was part of the playing for the three tournaments that we play and he's a big part of the team, the captain of the team,” veteran Mauro Rosales said of Mauro Diaz, who’s season came to an early end on Sunday. “But most important is our team. A lot of good players, a lot of good talent - young talent as well - and everybody wants that spot, so now it's time to show what you can do and give something to the team and put 100 percent of the year to finish the year in the best way.”
Adversity is nothing new to Dallas locker room. In fact, they thrive on it.
In 33 regular season matches, Oscar Pareja has fielded 29 unique lineups - utilizing the depth of his young roster in response to injury, player movement and just about every possible scenario within a single season. A compacted and complex schedule has seen Dallas play 19 of their 41 games in 2016 less than 5 days after a previous contest. In those games, FC Dallas has a record of 12-2-5.
“Nothing's new to us,” Chris Seitz said. “We know that maybe we're not being looked at the same way that we were prior, but we know at the same time we're just as good of a team. We know that some guys are going to have to fill some roles and really pick up their performances a bit. We're still capable of Supporters' Shield as well as MLS Cup and we look forward to those challenges.”
It won’t be an easy road, but now the team will face those challenges head on. And they’ll be doing it for the player that has done so much for them this season.
“There's no denying how important of a player and a role he's played for us this season. He's been so pivotal and crucial in a lot of games - a lot of goals, a lot of assists and a lot of big plays he creates,” defender Walker Zimmerman said. “It is a rallying point. It's something that does say ‘Hey guys, we're a team and we're going to win this together and whether you're on the field or off the field, whether you're on the bench or in the stands, you're a part of the game and you're a part of this season and you're a part of hopefully making history.’ That's the mentality that everyone has.”
“We know it’s fundamental to have a unified group that is on the same page to achieve our goals,” Maxi Urruti, one of Diaz’s closest friends both on and off the field said. “We have to be strong. We have our final game on Sunday and we hope we’ll be able to raise the trophy to dedicate it to him.”