Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. That was the feeling around the FC Dallas locker-room after a vicious two goal comeback was stomped by the Portland Timbers in-front of a sold out Toyota Stadium.
Lucas Melano delivered the dagger in second half stoppage time for the Timbers as he rounded Jesse Gonzalez to tap home a goal, delivering Dallas’ knockout blow.
The match ended at 2-2, but the aggregate favored the Timbers 5-3, sending the club from the Pacific Northwest to its’ first MLS Cup in club history.
A visibly defeated Oscar Pareja somberly walked into his press conference. After gathering himself for a moment, he then stood tall behind the podium and thanked the fans for a year of support, and hanging with the club despite the miserable weather during the match.
Pareja then thanked the media for connecting the team to the fans, helping spar their support.
While being one round from MLS Cup and missing out stings, Pareja feels as if there will be more success for his club down the road.
“I’m very proud of this group of players,” Pareja said. “They made us feel very good. They deserve more for sure, but it seems like the game is telling us that it’s not our time yet. We’ll keep working. There’s a lot of things ahead of this young group. Unfortunately, this is it, but we will keep moving on.”
That seemed to be the thought echoed throughout the FC Dallas team. While the loss stings now, they know they should be proud of what was accomplished this season.
Proud they should be, as this season was one of the most successful in the club’s history. While the club did not bring home any trophies, a young and almost unproven FC Dallas squad was a tiebreaker away from winning the Supporters Shield, and matched the most points earned in club history.
Canadian international Tesho Akindele, 23, was feeling the sting just as much as any other player. After scoring the goal that sparked the leg two win in the Western Conference Semi-finals against the Seattle Sounders, Akindele was subbed in by Pareja looking to do the same against the Timbers.
Akindele did not score against Portland, but feels as if the team has positives to take from the early exit from this years’ playoffs.
“Right now it definitely stings,” Akindele said. “You can’t really think about anything other than, ‘Dammit, we lost.’ Maybe looking back in a week or two once we calm down you’ll be able to say, ‘okay this was positive about the season. We made it farther than last year and we had some people step up.’ Maybe in a week we’ll be able to look back and say it was good, but right now it stings.”
Captain Matt Hedges feels as if his team should absolutely be proud of what they have done. Hedges has gone on record saying that he is not a fan of the playoff system, and that he thinks that the point leader at the end of the season should be the true winner of MLS.
Hedges, along with teammate Fabian Castillo, was named to the “MLS Best XI” for their work in 2015. Both hit on that the award is part of what the team has done, and that they are both more disappointed with the result in the playoffs than proud of being named to the best XI.
“We should be proud of what we accomplished,” Hedges said. “We got a young team that’s not as experienced as other squads in the west. We won the Western Conference and were a goal difference away from winning the whole league. We nearly pulled it off today. All the guys’ heads are down today disappointed of the result, but they should be proud of what they accomplished this year.”