All Major League Soccer teams heading into this season's CONCACAF Champions League were facing a dubious statistic: winless in 24 matches in Mexico.
Daunting to say the least, especially when its staring you in the face in your first match to open group play
The one (and probably only) advantage manager Schellas Hyndman had in his preparation before heading south of the border was knowing the Pumas likely would continue with their commitment to youth.
Over the past few years, Pumas have been leaders in utilizing an incredible youth development system during the Group Stage of the Champions League. From its U-17s to U-20s to reserve senior side, the club philosophy has been to make sure the youngsters understand the chance handed to them while giving them games at the international level.
For FC Dallas, coming off a 2-2 draw in Philadelphia in MLS, Hyndman made it clear to everyone watching that he was taking Champions League seriously and using a full strength starting XI, minus David Ferreira (ankle surgery) and Fabian Castillo, back only the night before after competing in the U-20 World Cup with Colombia.
Conversely, just two days removed from a 1-1 draw at home against Santos Laguna, Pumas UNAM manager Guillermo Vazquez kept only Juan Carlos Cacho and Martin Bravo available against FC Dallas.
The first 15 minutes went as expected, and following history, with the young Pumas side dominating possession and creating numerous chances. After a couple of huge saves from FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman (who is on pace to break the MLS record for games played), the Texas-based club started to settle in to the match and find its form through simple possession and trademark flank play.
And almost exactly like we've seen in league play, FC Dallas' Brek Shea and Marvin Chavez continuously utilized their incredible pace and agility to trouble the young but experienced back line of the Mexican side.
Pumas' youngsters discovered first-hand what has become the hallmark of Hyndman's teams: mentality and defensive stability. It failed to convert multiple goal scoring opportunities and ultimately found themselves the first Mexican side to fall to an MLS team in Mexico when Honduran International Marvin Chavez pounced on a rebound for the game winner in the 65th minute.
For FC Dallas, its attention returns to MLS as it hosts fellow Champions League participant the Seattle Sounders at home before traveling to Toronto's BMO Field face the other MLS team in the group, Toronto FC.
For Pumas, they'll roll out a first-choice squad to face Puebla on the road Sunday before heading to Panama City to face a Tauro FC side that was dominated by Toronto for the first 20 minutes at home before dominating and creating an incredible amount of chances for the rest of the match.
The question now for Vazquez is can he afford to maintain his club's philosophy of using a U-20/reserve squad in Champions League group play after dropping three points at home? And if he chooses to use the same starters from the match against FC Dallas, what kind of response will we see against possibly the weakest team in their group?