FRISCO - As FC Dallas returns to MLS action this weekend, opening the final seven games of the 2018 regular season, their eyes are set on two goals: clinch a spot in the playoffs and win MLS Cup.
Two years ago this week, the club was just focused on a trophy for the first time in 19 years. The success of 2016 - capturing a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and later the Supporters’ Shield - lifted a looming weight off the shoulders of the organization and solidified the belief in the new project set forth under Oscar Pareja.
Now, the bitter taste of how that season ended - without their first MLS Cup - leaves the nine holdovers from the year of the double with an even bigger motivation to complete the mission two years later.
“As a player, you never forget those moments and, I mean, what a run we made that year,” said Victor Ulloa, FCD’s longest-tenured player. “Our goal this year is to win MLS Cup and anything less will be a disappointment, for sure. The group is ready and visualizing that goal. Hopefully we can give ourselves, our families, this club, and these fans that opportunity to celebrate with us.”
“I’m a look forward guy,” Pareja said this week. “But remembering that we have been successful with the group, remembering that they have gotten trophies in this process, remembering that this week, we stopped a drought with a club on getting silver.
“We’re healthy and very well deserve to win and we’ll do surely knowing that we have a big challenge in front of us, still.”
Questions will remain about what happened at the end of 2017, but it’s clear this team has overcome.
For nine straight weeks, the club has held an outright lead in the Western Conference table. They’re racking up points at a higher rate than their historic back-to-back 60-point seasons of 2015 and 2016.
Over these last seven weeks, this group is aiming to finish the job started two years ago, in search of the one trophy left unclaimed in the FCD trophy case.
“We know that we have a bitter taste of not winning MLS Cup that year,” Michael Barrios said. “Now, the important thing is that we are reaching the first goal, to make it to the playoffs, then to start thinking of the games at home and as visitors and finally, being able to fight for that MLS cup.”
“Knowing this group this much and working with them every day, I can see their eagerness to continue the path of getting trophies for the club,” Pareja added. “And not being just an important team in the league, but a team who wins it.”