FC Dallas vs. Pachuca | CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals, 1st Leg
FC Dallas vs. CF Pachuca
2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals, 1st Leg
Toyota Stadium – Frisco, Texas
Wednesday, March 14 – 8 pm ET
WATCH: UDN, Facebook Live in USA
FC Dallas will welcome Pachuca to North Texas on Wednesday night, aiming to take the upper hand in their semifinal series against the Liga MX side as they look to reach their first CONCACAF Champions League final.
The pressure will be on Dallas to notch a win in the opening game of their home-and-away, aggregate-goal semifinal series. A loss or a draw on Wednesday would mean Dallas would have to get a positive result in the return leg in Mexico on April 4, something that MLS teams have historically found nigh impossible. A win, and Oscar Pareja’s group will put themselves in a good position to advance to the CCL final, the winner of which will be crowned North America’s champion.
The two teams have met just once, in the group stage of the 2007 SuperLiga. The drew 1-1 at Toyota Stadium with Carlos Ruiz and Christian Gimenez providing the goals.
Boasting a talented roster led by Homegrown midfielder Kellyn Acosta, US international center backs Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman and dynamic South Americans Michael Barrios, Cristian Colman, Carlos Gruezo and Maxi Urruti, Dallas had excellent 2015 and 2016 seasons and appear to be one of the top teams in MLS again this year.
They’ve gotten the new season off to a solid start, easily dispatching Panamanian club Arabe Unido in the CCL quarterfinals, winning 2-1 at LA in the MLS opener and getting a scoreless draw at Sporting Kansas City this past weekend despite running out a lineup full of reserves. Their regulars should be rested and ready for what will be their biggest test of 2017 on Wednesday.
“It’s crucial. It’s our leg,” Pareja told FCDallas.com earlier this week. “What I mean by that is it’s our leg that belongs to us at home and we have to take advantage of our ground, our fans, our stadium and our city. We want to be strong, for sure.”
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: Mauro Diaz (torn Achilles tendon) – OUT; Ryan Hollingshead (neck) – OUT; Anibal Chala (sports hernia) – OUT; Victor Ulloa (sports hernia) – OUT
Projected starting XI (4-4-2): Chris Seitz – Maynor Figueroa, Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, Hernan Grana – Roland Lamah, Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta, Michael Barrios – Maxi Urruti, Cristian Colman
Notes: Pareja started two vastly different lineups over Dallas’ first two MLS matches, making seven changes to the lineup that won 2-1 at LA for Saturday’s scoreless draw at Kansas City. First-teamers Zimmerman, Urruti and Hernan Grana didn’t see any action at SKC, while Acosta, Barrios and Roland Lamah all came off the bench … Veteran midfielder Javier Morales, who signed with FCD after leaving Real Salt Lake this winter, has the most CCL experience of anyone on the roster, and could be a valuable piece off the bench if Dallas needs a late goal.
Second-place finishers in the 2016 Apertura regular season, Pachuca have gotten their 2017 off to a strong start, posting a 5-2-2 record through their first nine matches of the Clausura campaign to sit tied atop Liga MX with Chivas.
Los Tuzos are led by Argentine striker Franco Jara and Uruguayan midfielder Jonathan Urretaviscaya. Both have excellent records in Liga MX action. Jara finished the 2016 Apertura tied for sixth in the league with nine goals and has started the current season with four strikes, while Urretaviscaya tied for the Apertura lead with five assists, a total he’s already matched in the Clausura campaign. They’re marshaled by a familiar face in the back, where Dallas-area native, US international and former LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez is a regular.
While they’ll be well rested after getting some unexpected time off this past weekend due to Mexico’s referee strike, Pachuca will be without one of their most talented players against Dallas, as Mexican international winger Hirving “Chucky” Lozano is out due to a gruesome ankle injury suffered earlier this month against Tijuana.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: Hirving Lozano (leg) – OUT
Projected starting XI (4-4-2): Oscar Perez – Raul Lopez, Omar Gonzalez, Oscar Murillo, Emmanuel Garcia – Victor Guzman, Erick Aguirre, Jorge Hernandez, Roberto Alvarado – Jonathan Urretaviscaya, Franco Jara
Notes: Pachuca are one of just five teams to have won the CONCACAF Champions League, lifting the trophy in the 2009-10 competition, just the second time the tournament was ever held … Tuzos have a distinct home field advantage at the high-elevation Estadio Hidalgo, which sits over 8,000 feet above sea level. Toyota Stadium, in contrast, is just 775 feet above sea level.