FRISCO – For the second time in three seasons, FC Dallas’ playoff hopes come down to Decision Day presented by AT&T. This time, however, Dallas’ fate is firmly in its hands.
Occupying seventh place – the final playoff spot in the West – one point above San Jose, Dallas will earn a fifth playoff berth in six seasons with a Decision Day win over Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. While it’s been an up-and-down season for FCD, a chance at the playoffs means a chance at the ultimate prize.
“The way we’re looking at it from here on out is there’s five games to win an MLS Cup — something that the club doesn’t have on the shelf yet,” head coach Luchi Gonzalez said. “And we’re really excited to play this first game of five to try to take the next step in the pursuit of an MLS Cup. That’s our focus.”
Now, with every potential game a must-win, the pressure on Dallas has reached its zenith — but Gonzalez wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We’re embracing the pressure,” he continued. “We’re embracing the stress of it because stress is what makes us grow as human beings. No one has ever achieved anything special without being in a stressful moment. We are in a stressful situation and we’re going to look at it in a positive way and embrace the opportunity that it provides us.”
“For us, this is one of the finals now,” forward Zdenek Ondrasek added. “We know how important it is and we’re getting ready for it. I hope the fans will come to support us because they have been amazing this year, and we need them—we need them on Sunday. As I said, everyone knows how important [it is] and this is our final.”
Dallas’ playoff dream is buoyed by the fact that Sunday’s game takes place at Toyota Stadium where the team has been imperious all season. With just one home loss in 2019, FCD can take heart knowing that Frisco has not been a happy hunting ground for opponents this year.
“This is our fortress; this is our stadium,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve got amazing support here to try and show our best for our fans and our families here. Our boys take a lot of pride playing at home, so this is a great opportunity. Here at home it’s a game where we can control the outcome, but we’re going to take it one step at a time. On Sunday, it’s our job – it’s our duty – to leave everything out on the field for our home fans.”
For much of the season, Gonzalez has preached the importance of his team learning and employing specific tactical and technical processes to win. On the eve of the team’s most important match of the season, however, Gonzalez urged his players to take inspiration from something else.
“Ultimately, [we want] to do it with absolute commitment and intensity and energy. These are all subjective things that pump the blood through our veins and make us come alive. I think we’re at a point where it’s not about Xs and Os, it’s about getting the blood pumping. Let’s really fight. Let’s really show energy and life. And that’s what we have the opportunity to do and what we plan on doing.”