It is hard to win on the road in CONCACAF Champions League. It is hard to win any game, anywhere, from two goals down. Credit FC Dallas for enlivening the last day of the 2016-17 CCL group stage with a fightback on a rainy night in Guatemala, turning a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 win.
After 22 minutes, the MLS side looked to be heading out of CCL, as it dropped into a two-goal hole on the road. FCD had plenty of incentive to give up at that point: there is a Supporters' Shield to be won this weekend in MLS, and the 2016 US Open Cup champion is already assured a place in next season's CCL. But Dallas was in no mood to lie down. By the 27th minute, the visitors were on the board. And they tied the game eight minutes later.
Ahead in the 51st minute, merely winning the game was not, apparently, sufficient for Dallas. The team found two more goals in the final minutes to give itself the necessary goal difference for the seventh seed in the knockout rounds.
The lopsided win pushed the New York Red Bulls down to the eighth seed in the quarterfinals. It was outcome that was not necessarily disappointing to some RBNY fans, who have already started looking forward to a meeting with top-seeded Vancouver Whitecaps.
The sentiment is echoed in Vancouver.
The Vancouver-RBNY match-up guarantees MLS representation in the semifinal round of this season's CCL. And ensures that both teams' pre-season preparations will be scrutinized for evidence of an advantage heading into the matches that should be their first competitive outings of 2017.
In the last game of the group stage, UNAM Pumas needed a win over W Connection to qualify, and a three-goal win to clinch the fourth seed in the quarterfinals. They cantered to an 8-1 victory.
The stage is set for next year's knockout rounds. The eight quarterfinalists are confirmed.
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The match-ups will see Vancouver and RBNY compete for the right to play Pumas or Tigres in the semifinals. Dallas will take on Arabe Unido, with the winner facing the winner of the Pachuca-Saprissa quarterfinal in the next round.
Current form won't count for much in late February, and most squads will change at least slightly during the winter transfer window. But they all know what comes next in CCL, and they have about four months to prepare for it.