By Will Martin
In the sports world there is that rare occurrence where the coincidences take center stage in comparison to the stats that most fans, or sabermatricians, like to digest and play with when preparing for an interesting matchup.
With Chivas USA in town for a visit (yes, Chivas is Spanish for Goat) it struck me as ironic that both Wilmer Cabrera and Oscar Pareja each enjoyed a 3-2 Opening Day win against their opponents. Both teams also enjoyed a point gained via the draw manner the very next week. FC Dallas waiting until the 93rd to do their damage courtesy of Matt Hedges.
Add to that, the history that both Coach Parejas and Cabrera have been together since school days. This makes for a game with a mirror image of two squads looking to return to playoff prominence, and erase some years of futility. The Coaches have either gone against or worked side by side as coaches and friends since they were 16.
“I have a lot of respect for Wilmer; as a person, as a friend, as a coach and the experience he has in all his years of soccer,” said Pareja. “We enjoyed our time while we were working together. I can’t say anything but the highest things about him.”
“We’ve known each other since we were 16,” Pareja said. “..through [Colombian] national teams, playing for different clubs and competing against each other, and then sharing the different cultural challenges in this country.” The respect factor is very mutual on both ends.
Early on it was FC Dallas being on the offensive with a couple of scoring chances on Chivas USA and Goalie Dan Kennedy. In the 27th minute it looked as if Je-Vaughn Watson was going to connect on a left footed kick that sailed high and over the posts to the disappointment of the 15,564 on hand at Toyota Stadium.
That would change in the 71st minute when Fabian Castillo connected on a goal with an assist from Hendry Thomas for a 1-0 lead on Chivas USA. Seven minutes later FC Dallas would increase their lead to 2-0 when Je-Vaughn Watson would find the net as the team mobbed him off to the side. It was only a matter of time before he would make a goal, having come so close 51 minutes earlier.
Chivas USA answered back when Forward Erick Torres blasted a shot past the outstretched reach of Chris Seitz to lessen the lead to 2-1. FC Dallas got a free kick in the 87th minute of play that Michel took and it deflected through the wall past goalie Dan Kennedy for a 3-1 final score.
With the win FC Dallas improved their season record to 2-0-1. Seven points in the Western Conference and with three of their next four games at home. Therein lies a great opportunity for FC Dallas to create some space with home cooking. Two weeks ago the talk among those in the know about FC Dallas was how Mauro Diaz has the opportunity to have a breakout year. This night he provided two wonderful setups-one for an assist- with two set pieces. A fact not lost on Fabian Castillo.
“You can’t give space to Mauro because it’s a very dangerous place to give him that kind of space…that pass was a great pass,” he said. “The fullback tried to get the ball. You’ve got to give credit to Je- Vaughn to because he was there and he did it.”
The relative ease in which JeVaughn Watson gave FC Dallas a lead was never lost was on the mind of Watson when describing the dish by Mauro Diaz.
“It was a perfect ball because I was running from the other end of the field,” Watson said. “It’s just me making a hard run and getting through because I know I’m faster than the guy, and it was a perfect ball. He couldn’t have done [anything], it was just for me to get on the end of it.”
Statistically this was a game that FC Dallas dominated from passing (402-273), Ball possession (58%-42%), number of penalties assessed (Chivas USA 24 FC Dallas 13), even passing accuracy (75% vs. 67%). A good night all around.
One down note to this evening. Early in the game Andrew Jacobson went down hard as he rolled on his ankle. He was on crutches after the game. His status for now remains unknown.
What is known is that FC Dallas is a perfect 2-0 at home. Hopefully when the Portland Timbers roll into town on March 29th the weather will be a little more cooperative and the wind not quite as hectic.
3/29 vs Portland Timbers 7:30 PM