FRISCO - FC Dallas nearly completed the final-minute comeback in their Round of 16 series with Tauro FC, but in the end a mistake during Leg One in Panama was too much to overcome.
Coming into Leg Two trailing 1-0 and without a road goal to vie in a tie-breaking scenario, Dallas was forced to think offensive needing a multi-goal win to advance. An early bounce Wednesday night off of Carlos Gruezo set the Panamanian visitors up with a prime goal and forced FCD out of its original game plan needed at least three of their own to survive.
“It’s not only in the bounce [tonight], it’s in the first game in Panama where we didn't receive a goal, and then of course we had to score many goals at home,” defender Reto Ziegler said. “What was really good today was the mentality of the team what we didn't have in Panama. I think today we really wanted to win even when we took this first goal it was not easy mentally, but we never gave up.”
“We were kinda riled up, anxious [early on]. We [wanted] to start going and going, when in reality we didn't want to give up a goal,” Reggie Cannon said. “It’s just really unfortunate, just a lucky goal. We tried to bounce back but just couldn't. It's unfortunate.”
Dallas didn’t let up though despite the hole they found themselves in. Maxi Urruti pulled level minutes later with a spectacular strike before Tauro took advantage of a forward-pressing FCD team to score their second on the night heading to half.
A number of offensive substitutes late led to a Cristian Colman series equalizer in stoppage time, but in the end Tauro FC’s away goals saw them advance through to the Quarterfinal round.
“I am responsible for the program and the decisions,” Pareja said after the match of his club’s disappointing exit. “Seeing my players happy after games is what we aim for every weekend and in every competition, so I do really feel bad and frustrated and all those feelings, but at the same I knew from the first moment that I took this job that I need to overcome them and keep pushing forward. That’s the least I can do as a leader because the day that I see no response from the players on the field, I will be the first one to step aside and I won’t stay here, but I saw the response from the [players] who were trying to do the right things [late in the match] and, for me, that was encouraging.”
It’s right back to work this weekend for FCD as they open their 2018 MLS season, looking to move on and focus on the next task at hand over the course of a long year.
I mean Oscar told us in the locker room keep your heads up. We’ve got a home opener on Saturday and we just gotta keep going and get ready for that,” Cannon said. “We just need to bounce back and get ready for the season.”
“Of course it is disappointing for us because the CONCACAF is something special and you don't play ever year, so you have to deserve that. It was a big chance for us, so we apologize to the fans, but today we tried our best,” Ziegler added. “Now we have to think about the league and we want to do well this season.”