By Will Martin
It was a much needed reprieve after a two game skid. It was also a night where a multiple goal night happened for an FC Dallas player who had just completed a busy week of action in the Copa Centramericana alongside his countrymen in Panama.
Blas Perez had himself a two goal week but the bigger question Coach Oscar Pareja and his teammates wondered was, ‘Could Blas play?’
“With Blas it’s simple,” FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja remarked post game. “I looked at him on Thursday and asked him ‘do you think you have gas in the tank’ and the answer is ‘of course’ and that was it. We didn’t talk about it any longer.”
With that a two goal week suddenly became a four goal week!
Desperately in need of points after two setbacks in Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake it was Blas Perez who drove the Red For 90 crew to a well-deserved 2-1 victory before a crowd of close to 15,000 at Toyota Stadium over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
It was in the 20th minute that a cross from Blas would find its intended destination as it blew past Whitecap goalie David Ousted for an early 1-0 lead for FCD.
In minute 77 a 1-all tie was broken for good when Perez took advantage of a cross that was somewhat deflected for a score and a subsequent 2-1 victory over Vancouver.
So Blas how tough was it to perform with Panama and still be able to perform with your teammates for this game?
“It was a little bit tired but I recover quickly so I told him I was ready to play,” Perez said. “He asked me if I could play and I said ‘yes’ because I recover quickly. Everything went how we planned and I’m happy.”
Coming into play only five points separated Vancouver from FC Dallas in the chase for the playoffs in the Western Division. You can now make that eight. Team Pareja improved to 13-9-6 (45 points) as Vancouver fell to 8-7-13 (37 points). FC Dallas’ next opponents are the L.A. Galaxy on September 20 (14-5-9 51 points).
Both Oscar Pareja and Tesho Akindele had nothing but positives to share about the efforts of Blas Perez as a player and as a teammate.
“Blas sets the tone for this group in the locker room and on the field also. In the field you saw it. He’s a player who gave all he has and then the game rewards him with two goals today,” said Pareja. “We needed him today. He played two games during the week and came in the first day after that and said ‘I want to be on the field’. That represents what this group is about and I’m glad for him. He sets the path and the boys follow him.”
“He’s older than most of the people on the team, but he’s still working hard every game,” said Tesho Akindele. “He played three games this week, but you wouldn’t know it. He’s running all over the place giving us encouragement and keeping us going.”
With his performance on September 13, Blas Perez was voted your MLS Soccer Player Of The Week.
With six games to go every game counts. So what exactly is the mindset of the FC Dallas team with a chance to go back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011?
“I’m always in the mode that we’re one game at a time. I feel today obviously very happy and proud to beat Vancouver and see the boys giving us that effort,” said Pareja. “We get three points and get some distance, but the responsibility now isn’t to look at the standings, the responsibility now is to say we solved that problem tonight but the playoffs are not secure yet and the responsibility is to just keep looking ahead.”
FC Dallas had the upper hand statistically with a 12-10 shots on goal advantage while on target by a 6-2 advantage. FC Dallas led in duels won 70-51 and corner kicks 10-5. The Red for 90 crew also avoided penalty troubles while Vancouver was assessed three yellow cards.
Six more games to go and then its on to the playoffs. Currently the odds are certainly in favor of the FCD community. Tesho Akindele, Fabian Castillo, and a suddenly relevant Blas Perez helps the team cause for a postseason run.
Next home game will be on September 24 against the Seattle Sounders. The action will begin at 8pm at Toyota Stadium. Hopefully it wont be a wind-driven contest like last April when Clint Dempsey was riding high off a hat trick in Portland and a two goal performance on FC Dallas.
Six more games. It’s beginning to feel a lot like 2011. Hence the chosen title for this report.
9/20 @LA Galaxy 9:30pm