FC Dallas will begin CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) play tonight at Toyota Stadium in Frisco against Real Esteli, the reigning champions of the Nicaraguan Primera Division.
A relatively unknown side to many FC Dallas fans, Real Esteli will be making their sixth CCL appearance on Thursday night, having previously appeared in the competition in 2009 and in each year from 2012 onward.
By simply taking the field on Thursday against FC Dallas, Esteli will have already equaled their best CCL showing by reaching the Group Stage, a feat they replicated in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Winners of 13 Nicaraguan top-flight titles, Real Esteli has faced MLS opposition on two occasions in CCL play, failing to record a win against Sporting Kansas City or Toronto FC in six combined matches against those sides. In fact, Real Esteli has never won a match in CCL action, only managing to record a handful of draws.
Looking at the Real Esteli roster, two players still with the club did the bulk of the goal scoring for the team during their title winning 2015-16 campaign. Luis Galeano netted a remarkable 22 times for El Tren del Norte, while Samuel Wilson scored 12 goals of his own.
In the back, Esteli’s workhorse defenders are Johnatan Mosquera and Josue Quijano, who each played over 3,000 minutes for Real Esteli in their most recent title-winning season.
Based on photos on the Real Esteli website, the team is sponsored by Spanish mobile phone operator Movistar, and they have already been assigned to wear their home white uniform for Thursday’s match.
The game will mark FC Dallas’ fourth foray into continental club competition and their first CCL appearance since 2011. Dallas has never advanced to the knockout rounds of a continental club competition.
Each of the three other MLS sides in this year’s CCL won their opening matches, with the Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls all recording victories.
Kickoff will be at 7:00 p.m. in Frisco, with television coverage available exclusively on Univision Deportes.
Online coverage will also be available through Facebook Live, with CONCACAF streaming CCL matches this season via the social networking site.