FRISCO, Texas — The 2019 season has offered the FC Dallas fan just about every single emotion imaginable. The team has had its ups and downs throughout the year, and with 10 games left in the regular season, FC Dallas stands in seventh place in the Western Conference, just above the playoff line with 33 points to its name.
Coming off a road loss to Orlando City SC last weekend, FC Dallas has an opportunity to find its footing against Minnesota United FC on Saturday — the team that just leaped into second place in the west.
With the season hitting the home stretch, playoffs are right around the corner. Making a playoff run is still a realistic path FC Dallas can take as the regular season winds down.
Here are five reasons for FC Dallas fans to remain optimistic in 2019.
ABOVE THE PLAYOFF LINE
With 10 games to go in the regular season, FC Dallas remains firmly in the playoff picture, just like it has for the majority of the season. Even with a depleted roster for chunks of the summer due to international duty and various injuries, FCD managed to stay above the playoff line and gave itself the chance to improve as the club regained its key players.
Paxton Pomykal, Brandon Servania and Edwin Cerrillo all represented FC Dallas and the United States in the U-20 World Cup in Poland for a month. Before leaving, both Pomykal and Cerrillo had featured in the Starting XI for FCD, and after the trio came back to Texas, Servania has been an integral part of the midfield along with Pomykal.
Week 22 is in the books. How we got to where we are in the Western Conference. pic.twitter.com/SHsfcxTLQg— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 6, 2019
Bryan Acosta and Reggie Cannon both left as well for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup to play for Honduras and the U.S., respectively. Carlos Gruezo departed following the CONMEBOL Copa America, and it gave the Homegrowns a chance to step up.
Santiago Mosquera, Johnny Nelson and Jacori Hayes have all missed time with injury as well. Through all of these setbacks in personnel, FC Dallas still stood pat in the Western Conference Standings. In a season that was supposed to be a “rebuild year” according to different outlets, expectations have been exceeded overall. That resiliency will be key heading into the end of the regular season.
Nine different players at the age of 21 or under has featured for FC Dallas in the 2019 season. Jesus Ferreira, Pomykal, Servania and Reggie Cannon are currently regular starters for the team, and Ferreira is tied for the most goals on the team with six to his name.
Pomykal and Servania made some noise with the U.S. at the U-20 World Cup with the former wearing the captain’s armband for four of the five matches played. Cannon represented FC Dallas at the Gold Cup and even started in the tournament’s final.
Youth is a vital part to this season’s team, and with all circumstances considered, this season could have gone a whole lot worse with so much commitment to youth. FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez has been able to develop his players while still contending in a highly-competitive Western Conference with has a five-point differential between second and seventh place.
JESSE GONZALEZ STEPPING UP
One of FC Dallas’ most consistent players this season has been goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, especially as of late. The keeper has taken a step up this season with focus and technical ability. His improvements have led to six clean sheets and a save percentage of 70-percent, which is 10th in MLS among goalkeepers with 10 or more saves.
He’s come up big in crucial situations, has saved penalty kicks against some of the best in MLS, including LAFC’s Carlos Vela.
CONSISTENT BACK LINE
FC Dallas has been a barrage of different lineups this season, and some of the constant changes were in the back line. Cannon missed a month of the season due to Gold Cup duties, there suspensions here and there, and Reto Ziegler picked up a knock during the summer as well. That’s not including Nelson, who was improving his game rapidly before he picked up an injury shortly after the season began.
Even through injury, FC Dallas has managed to keep six clean sheets in 2019, which is 10th in MLS with just one error leading to a goal. Matt Hedges and Ziegler have solidified their spots at center back with impressive and consistent performances.
Ryan Hollingshead has played at just about every position this season, and Bressan has stepped up when FCD has needed him to. He took over at right back while Cannon was gone on international duty. If there’s any group in the formation that has constantly come up big for FCD, it’s the defense.
IT'S ALL ABOUT MOMENTUM
Last season, the Portland Timbers finished the regular season in fifth place on 54 points. As soon as the playoffs started, the Timbers caught fire. They took down rival Seattle Sounders and upset one-seeded Sporting Kansas City en route to a MLS Cup Final appearance.
Portland showed that having the top seed doesn’t necessarily translate to success in the playoffs for every team. FC Dallas has beaten some talented teams throughout the season, including LA Galaxy, Atlanta United, Seattle Sounders and D.C. United.
FC Dallas has shown its ability to beat the top teams in MLS — it’s now down to the wire whether the team can do it with some playoff pressure.