LA Galaxy, New York City FC, Orlando City FC, and Toronto FC have two things in common. First, they have spent millions of dollars on players like Steven Gerrard ($6,132,500), Frank Lampard ($6,000,000), Sebastian Giovinco ($7,115,556), and Ricardo Kaká ($7,167,500). Second, they are all behind FC Dallas in the Supporters Shield race.
FC Dallas is not a flashy team that is led by one or two stars that have come to the MLS to see their career out to retirement. Instead, FC Dallas is a young and talented team that wins games by simply outworking their opponents.
They are a franchise that, up until two weeks ago, had not won a championship since their 1997 Open Cup victory. Now, not only have they won the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, they are in prime position to claim the league title with only 3 games remaining in the regular season.
FC Dallas has continued to grow in recent years, qualifying for playoffs the last two years, finishing fourth overall in 2014 and second in 2015. It seems right that they can finally crawl to the top of the Supporters Shield race going into playoffs, but they’ll have to finish the season on a strong note as second place Colorado is within shooting distance at 48 points and two games back.
Dallas’ big changes have to do with coaching as they brought in Colombian and FC Dallas native Oscar Pareja in January of 2014. Pareja has since changed them to one of the best and most consistent teams in the west, and has put his trust in youth as the team is led by players like 25-year old Michael Barrios and 26-year old Matt Hedges.
Pareja seems like he focuses on team unity. For example, he “refused” to call the team he fielded reserves in a September 28th CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) 0-0 draw against Guatemalan side Suchitepequez in Frisco. He seems like he is doing a great job of balancing playing time as FC Dallas is in a good position to qualify for the next round of the CCL, are first in the Supporters Shield race, and just won a prestigious trophy.
Dallas will close out their MLS regular season with home games against L.A. and Seattle before returning to L.A. on October 23. They close their group stage run in the CCL against CD Suchitepequez in Guatemala on Thursday, Oct. 20th and need a win in order to take first place in their group and advance to the next round.
They have already locked down an MLS Playoff berth, and America will be watching as the underdogs look to reach their first MLS final since 2010. Pareja and FC Dallas have shown consistency throughout the long MLS season, and will need to continue their good form in order to become the most successful team the organization has ever produced.