As I gathered my gear for Saturday nightâs FC Dallas game against a struggling Portland Timbers team, I couldnât help but notice I had a butterfly feeling in my stomach. I was nervous, yet, very excited. Itâs that feeling that every soccer player gets before any game he plays. The bigger the âbutterflyâ feeling is, the better the game you play most of the time. Needless to say, I had a great feeling about this game, and boy was I right.
I made my way down to the pitch as fast as possible and as I walked by the Dallas Beer Guardians, FC Dallas Girls, FC Drummers, and the Inferno members I noticed something peculiar: they were all being louder than usual. The game was underway and as fast paced as ever. This FCD team was hungry tonight and so were the fans. FCDâs David Ferreira and Daniel Hernandez were setting the pace for the game and distributing balls beautifully to the flanks and forwards. The only thing missing was Brek Shea, who wasnât even a sub for the game (coachâs decision). Everyone assumes this is because of the verbal confrontation he had with Coach Schellas Hyndman. Regardless of the reason, Brek was on the roof, watching from a distance, supporting his teammates.
FCD controlled most of the pace and possession of this game. Early on, Jair Benitez received a pass from David Fereirra and had the whole left side to himself. Jair did what he normally does in this situation, he took the ball in and looked to cross it. Then, something amazing happened. Portland Timbers defender Hanyer Mosquera deflected the ball in for an own goal in the 16th minute. The fun didnât stop there as just 10 minutes later, David Fereirra hit Zach Loyd with a perfect pass on the far side of the field. Zach one-touched the ball laterally to an oncoming Andrew Jacobson. The play was so quick and perfect that the only thing missing was a goal. Well, Andrew obliged and took a rocket of a shot from outside the 18 yard box and right into the bottom left corner it went. Timbers Goalkeeper Troy Perkins didnât have a chance in hell of stopping the shot. The 26th minute goal put FCD up 2-0 for the first time all season! This goal was also Jacobsonâs first on the season and what a beauty it was.
As the rest of the half played on, Dallas controlled the flow of the game. Dallasâ control was so thorough that Portland had only one shot in the first half. The Timbers opted to keep some key players on the bench since they were playing their third game in an eight day span. Clearly, interim Timbers coach Gavin Wilkinson was thinking that they had a good enough squad to come out and tie or beat this sleeping giant, FC Dallas. The half ended and the Timbers walked to the locker room with heads down. The Timbers Army, Portlandâs impressive supporterâs group that travelled well for this match far from their Cascadian home, were silent for a change. The Toros had managed to build a lead and keep it for the first time this season. Contrary to the melancholy Timbers fans, the Â Dallas Beer Guardians were going nuts!
The second half kicked off and the feeling you got was that Portland had given up. Their team chemistry was off, they were fighting with each other out of frustration, and even Troy Perkins looked dazed. It took FCD no time at all to put another goal in the back of the net in the 48th minute. Jackson had been all over the field pestering the Timbers players and it finally paid off. Once again, David Fereirra fed a great ball to Jackson in full stride down the middle of the field. Even though his shirt was being pulled on by the Portland defenders, Jackson pushed on like an Ox, got some space and blasted a shot that was deflected into the goal. There was no stopping FC Dallas on this night. They were out for blood and what better team to take out their frustrations on than a struggling Portland team that recently fired their coach (John Spencer).
After the Jackson goal, the Timbers fell completely apart. Portland failed to track players on defense, made horrible passes on offense, and only had one other shot on goal the rest of the match. The whole second half was dominated by FC Dallas. In the 53rd minute, Schellas Hyndman chose to sub out David Fereirra and put in the newly acquired Julian de Guzman (formerly of Toronto FC). The Red Striped created chance after chance and then Scott Sealy FINALLY produced a goal while erasing all doubt as to the outcome of this match. It was Sealyâs first goal in over 4 years in the MLS. The lone striker, in for the inactive Brek Shea, received a beautiful ball from Jackson and placed a nice shot to the lower right corner in the 69th minute. Shortly after, in the 76th minute, Sealy was replaced by Ruben Luna.
Ruben has been hungry for success and goals since being called up to the first team last year. Luna keeps to his faith and always hopes for the best for himself and his teammates. âPaying it Forwardâ has finally come full circle for Luna. Just six minutes after entering the game, he snuck in behind the Portland defense and scored while falling forward to get his body behind the ball. Jackson, again, was the man with the change of pace on the right side and assisted Luna on the 81st minute goal. Although Jackson was not Man of the Match with 1 goal and 2 assists, he played a damn good game. David Fereirra was the Man of the Match because he kept was very active while he was on the pitch and he distributed the ball very well, including assists on both of Dallasâ first two goals.
âSoccer Night in Texasâ was one for the books and will be talked about for awhile. Could FC Dallas be the âSleeping Giantâ of the MLS this season? They are only eight points out of a playoff spot, so fans have to believe that FC Dallas can come together as a team and put the critics to rest. Whatever ends up happening the rest of this season, always remember one thingâ¦ âI Know I Am, Iâm Sure I Amâ¦ Dallas âTil I Die!â