FC Dallas boss Nico Estevez has paid tribute to his side’s performance this term as they close in on a postseason berth ahead of their MLS trip west to face San Jose Earthquakes in California this weekend.
The Texan outfit can wrap up a home playoff spot as the race for the MLS Cup takes further shape over the final few weeks of the regular campaign, with victory set to keep them at least three points ahead of fourth-placed Nashville in the Western Conference.
The Earthquakes meanwhile have been long since resigned to missing out on the battle for silverware at the business end of the season, rooted to the foot of the ladder and looking more to end the campaign with some dignity.
With his side on the cusp of clinching their ticket to the last club dance card of the year, Estevez has waxed lyrical about what Dallas have brought to the table this year, and says his squad are the true power behind their collective success.
“It’s an achievement of everyone here,” he noted. “The ownership, the players, the staff. When we met the first time, we talked about working together, and then when you work together and are in sync in the decisions, it’s easier to get to where we are right now.
“Probably the expectations were high that we would be at this point right now, but I think credit to the players, as I said, because they have done a fantastic job.”
Opposite number Alex Covelo – who oversaw the official elimination from playoff contention for the Earthquakes against Colorado in midweek – meanwhile acknowledged it had been a hard season for his team, but added that he took great pride in their efforts nevertheless.
“I told them that I am very proud to have spent this time coaching them and with the rest of the staff,” said the interim boss. “Today I feel very proud of them. The guys know, but right now what we need to do is keep playing and finish as high as possible in the standings. We need to keep fighting to finish well.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
San Jose – Cristian Espinoza
Even amid a pretty dismal season across the board at the Earthquakes, the Argentine has been one of their brighter lights. His six goals isn’t necessarily earth-shattering, but 13 assists ranks him in the top five for the whole MLS competition.
Dallas – Paul Arriola
Named to the latest USMNT squad, in their final meet before the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the MLS All-Star pick has high hopes of making the plane – and with an impressive 50 key passes this term, has every chance of proving the difference at club level too.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– FC Dallas ended a nine-match winless run against San Jose with a 4-1 home victory on August 13. Dallas has only recorded consecutive non-shootout wins against San Jose in a single season once, doing so in July-September 1997.
– San Jose’s 2-1 defeat to Colorado on Wednesday was its seventh loss in its last 11 matches (W2 D2). The Earthquakes had suffered just three defeats in its previous 13 league games (W5 D5) dating back to mid-April.
– FC Dallas has won two straight games for the fifth time this season following wins over Minnesota and LAFC. Dallas has yet to win three in a row this season, however, last doing so in October-November 2020.
– Nathan scored his fourth career MLS goal in San Jose’s loss to Colorado on Wednesday. All four of Nathan’s goals in MLS have been scored on set pieces with Cristian Espinoza providing the primary assist.
– With two goals on Saturday, Jesús Ferreira took his total to 18 on the season, equaling the FC Dallas record for goals in a single regular season (K. Cooper in 2007, J. Kreis in 1998). Ferreira has scored multiple goals five times this season, tied with Jason Kreis in 1999 for the most such games in a season in club history.