"Love is very strong."

Listen to FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez talk about how they worked over the course of last week to prepare the squad for a tough match.

On Saturday night, outside FC Dallas’ locker room, Nico Estevez was buoyant.

You could tell a weight had been lifted off his shoulders as his team dominated the Los Angeles Galaxy behind 4 first-half goals. After settling for a draw at home last weekend against the Colorado Rapids, the week's pressure, at least for the evening, was gone. The team was in. No more questions. No more second guesses.

I asked Nico how he managed the team over the week. Was it business as usual, treating the Galaxy game like any other match? Or did he and his staff try to lighten the mood and relieve some of the pressure the team was feeling?

His answer was incredible - they wanted the players to know they are loved.

However it may have landed with the squad, the shift in mood was apparent on the field as the team played with fresh energy, exploiting the tactical setup that Galaxy presented them. Once the first goal went in, more were on the way.

FC Dallas’ recent head coaches have been cut from this kind of cloth. Nico Estevez, Luchi Gonzalez, and Oscar Pareja all point to what FC Dallas desires in a head coach - someone with vision and ability to develop talent but someone too who wants to create a family atmosphere in the locker room. Nico no doubt has that kind of buy-in with the team, despite whatever frustrations may have manifested throughout the season.

While the team enacted their game plan well on Saturday night, it was love that proved the difference for Nico and team.

FC Dallas return to action against the Seattle Sounders in Seattle on Monday, October 30.

AFTERBURN SOCCER is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.