FC Dallas picked up a fifth win of the season with their comprehensive 3-0 victory at Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. They are still the only unbeaten side in MLS this term and are on track to retain their Supporters’ Shield title come the end of the season. But the club know they need to lift the MLS Cup trophy, given how well they’ve developed over the past three years.
Despite playing in all 22 MLS seasons to date (including the current campaign), FC Dallas have only been to one MLS Cup Final, in which they lost 2-1 to Colorado in extra-time in 2010. Since then, they’ve only won two of their six playoff games and were eliminated by eventual champions Seattle last year in their Western Conference semifinal clash.
Many felt Dallas were the team to beat heading into the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. They had just lifted a first-ever Supporters’ Shield and topped the West with 60 points for the second-successive year. On top of that, Dallas also lifted last season’s US Open Cup, becoming the first MLS team to win a double since 2014. Their priority this year is to get their hands on that elusive MLS Cup and here are three reasons why they look set to do it.
Oscar Pareja’s men have picked up 18 points from their first eight games of the 2017 season. That’s one more than they had after eight games in 2016 and four more than they had in 2015. They have finished with 60 points in each of the last two seasons – an amount that has been enough to win the Supporters’ Shield for the past two seasons, and only missed out on the 2015 title as a result of an inferior goalscoring record to the Red Bulls.
Major League Soccer is impossible to predict week-to-week and yet Dallas remain competitive, no matter the circumstances. They have the ninth-smallest wage bill in the league with the youngest team in the league and seem to have depth all over the field. They have only lost one of their last 16 regular season games in total and haven’t suffered back-to-back defeats for 12 months.
One of the key reasons Dallas remain so consistent is the fact they can run until the very last kick of the game. They don’t score many early goals – they are the only team yet to score in the first 30 minutes of a game this year – but they have scored 90% of their goals this season in the second half and their relentless pressure often pays off. The young legs throughout the side help, but Pareja and his coaching staff deserve great credit for ensuring fitness levels are always impressively high.
We all know a strong home record provides a platform for success in football. It’s the case all over the world but it’s imperative in MLS, given the long-distance travel teams have to endure for road games over the course of a campaign. For Dallas, Toyota Stadium is a fortress. They have only lost one of their last 29 MLS games at home and have won 74% of their home matches over the past two seasons.
Dallas are good wherever they play but whenever they take to the field in front of their own supporters, they seem to play with even more confidence and never look like losing. If they can keep that going over the remainder of this term, they should put themselves in a position to win a second-successive Supporters’ Shield, as well as a first MLS Cup title in December.