FRISCO – FC Dallas travels to Colorado on Sunday to take on the Rapids in a must-win game in their quest for 51 points and a playoff berth.
Dallas sits in seventh places in the West on 45 points with two games remaining. Back-to-back draws against second-place Seattle Sounders and Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC means Dallas’ playoff fate is still in their hands.
But Sunday’s do-or-die matchup has further implications as head coach Luchi Gonzalez and forward Dominique Badji are both former Colorado Rapids players. However, the return to their former stomping grounds holds very different meanings to coach and player.
Badji, who spent three and a half seasons with the Rapids after being drafted in 2015, maintained that the upcoming game was a “business trip” and little more. Gonzalez, on the hand, spoke with a rare sentimentality on his return to the club.
“Colorado is dear to me,” Gonzalez said. “I know it was only two years, but I have a lot of great memories there. The organization has evolved since I’ve been there, but absolutely it’s always special to have the honor to coach against the club you once represented as a player. I respect that a lot and I’m glad to see them continue to be a successful franchise in the league.”
Sunday’s game is first and foremost a chance for FC Dallas to take another step closer to playoff qualification. Two important draws last week and a slew of favorable results around the league have Dallas one place above the playoff line—but the work is far from over.
“It’s absolutely [a must-win game],” Gonzalez said. “We’re going for 51 points. Nothing less.”
The players, too, are keenly aware that the outcome of their season hinges on Sunday’s result, as well as the final home match against Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 6.
“No doubt, these last two games are must-win games for us,” forward Dominque Badji said. “We want to put ourselves in the best position come playoff time and two wins is going to do that for us. We don’t want to rely on other teams, and this is what we have control over, so we’re definitely going there with the mentality of getting three points.”
“We have to focus on ourselves, not worry about the other results,” midfielder Paxton Pomykal added. “We want six points, if we don’t get it then obviously, we’d have to see [other results]. But we have to get it, so that’s what we’re going for.”
Updated Sept. 26.