kicked off the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals in style by thrashing Árabe Unido
4-0 at Toyota Stadium on Thursday Night. Kellyn Acosta
led the scoring with a delicious brace that included a stunning curled strike from outside the box.
The Texas club qualified for this round of the CCL for the first time in team history, going undefeated in the group stage. Árabe Unido got to the knock-out stage by winning all four group matches and eliminating Monterrey of Liga MX.
Kellyn Acosta Double Shreds Árabe Unido in Champions League
FC Dallas was without their talismanic playmaker, Mauro Díaz, who is still recovering from an Achilles tear, and expected to be out until June. New signings Cristian Colmán, Roland Lamah, and Hernan Grana featured in a new look 4-4-2 formation for Óscar Pareja.
FC Dallas had better possession and better chances on goal for the first half hour of the match. Roland Lamah was lively and dribbled at defenders from the first whistle. He and Barrios flip-flopped frequently on the flanks, making it difficult for the Árabe defenders to to track them. It was at the 30 minute mark when FC Dallas’ shiny new number nine in Colmán struck. Carlos Gruezo headed an Árabe goal kick immediately back into the 22 year old Paraguayan’s path, as he barreled down on the opposition goal. He waited for a bounce and struck the ball first time to give Dallas a 1-0 lead. The half ended with that scoreline.
Kellyn Acosta took over from there and delivered two highlight reel goals that secured the first leg for FC Dallas. In the 54th minute Roland Lamah made a threatening mazy run into the right side of the box. Rather than shoot, he pulled the ball back and slotted a pass to Acosta who was lurking just outside of the top of the box. Acosta sized up the pass as it arrived, and curled a first time strike into the top left corner of the goal.
Acosta completed his brace in the 86th minute with another fine strike from the top of the box, this time assisted by substitute Tesho Akindele. Michael Barrios put a cherry on top of an emphatic Dallas performance in stoppage time. His low driven shot from the right side of the box beat Árabe goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd to complete the rout.
Summary and Second Leg
Thursday’s performance was a perfect start to the 2017 campaign for Óscar Pareja and company. The new formation worked, the new signings looked sharp, and Plano native Acosta starred. Árabe Unido did not offer much resistance. It was a disappointing performance from the 2016 Apertura Champions from Panama’s first division. It’s worth noting that three players that were key to Árabe’s success last year were sold. This was not the same Árabe Unido team the qualified for the CCL knockout stage, but they still badly underperformed in Dallas.
FC Dallas will be heavy favorites to progress to the semifinals after this result. The large margin of victory will also give Pareja more flexibility in his roster selection for the second leg. That match will be played in Panama next Wednesday, March 1st. The winner over two legs will face either Costa Rican side Saprissa or Pachuca of Liga MX in the semifinals.