PACHUCA - FC Dallas has arrived in Pachuca and there’s just one last training session before Tuesday night’s Semifinal Leg Two. In the meantime, let’s dive into the mailbag and answer a few questions:
“What could be the biggest factor for FCD to overcome on Tuesday night?” - Juan
Great question, Juan. There are going to be a lot of factors to keep an eye on tomorrow night, from the atmosphere at Estadio Hidalgo, to the altitude FCD has worked so hard to acclimate to, to the game itself. But I think the biggest thing to overcome will be a Pachuca team looking to overcome a 2-1 deficit.
We saw early in Leg One just how the Liga MX side can make you pay for even the slightest mental lapse and coupled with the return of Hirving Lozano, who missed the first meeting recovering from injury, Pachuca is a dangerous team. They don’t mind playing a low-scoring game, just like Dallas, but they can capitalize on any mistake at the drop of a hat. It’s going to take a full 90-minute performance from Dallas to reach the Final.
“What has been the best thing about Mexico?” - Mike
Mexico has been incredible. We’re just hours into our Pachuca leg of the trip, but our first five days in Puebla couldn’t have gone much better. The weather has been 75-80 degrees and sunny during the day and dipping down into the 50s at night. It took even myself a few days to adjust to the altitude and not be keeling over, gasping for air after climbing just two floors of stairs, but it’s amazing the difference a few days makes. The body adjusts and I have to applaud the coaching staff for taking this detailed approach. And spending time at a beautiful, historic stadium like Estadio Cuauhtémoc was amazing.
For me, though, my favorite part of the trip so far has been our time around the La Noria FC training grounds, where Dallas has practiced most of the journey. The facilities were picturesque with tall trees, all hand-planted, around the complex, the different fields and just the overall atmosphere of the place. To look over during training and see countless kids in practices of their own and then sticking around to watch FCD was great. And the youth club and Academy reminded me so much of our own FC Dallas Academy from the family-first mentality to the principles the club was founded on - not only developing good players, but more importantly good people. You can learn more about La Noria here.
“Is Oscar Pareja elite?” - Chet Yield
In every sense of the word, yes. I think being the first MLS head coach to reach back-to-back 60-point seasons and to have reached the playoffs four times in five seasons as a head coach, turning around two franchises along the way speaks to the greatness that is Oscar Pareja. He’s the only coach to reach 50 wins in his first 100 games as head coach in the non-shootout MLS era and very deservedly earned Coach of the Year honors in 2016. We are witnessing greatness in Dallas with Papi at the helm.