By Will Martin
The night of July 19 FC Dallas-getting healthier by the day-will get back to home play against the New England Revolution of the Eastern Conference.
It will be the start of a very busy and frenetic 30 day period with matches, a rare EPL (English Premier League) friendly.
Two road games followed by a revisit by the Colorado Rapids August 9 followed by a rematch with the Philadelphia Union on August 12 at Toyota Stadium. A semi-finals showdown for the right to lay claim to the Lamar Hunt U.S Open trophy.
A piece of hardware that Oscar Pareja and the Red For 90 kids take seriously and hold near and dear.
July 9 was a memorable night for Blas Perez who would enjoy a hat trick this night with some help from Fabian Castillo and his two assists in a 5-2 victory and the rematch with the Union next month in the 101st U.S. Open Cup.
Cary, North Carolina was a happening place for FC Dallas (before a crowd of 4,169) as they took on the Railheads of the NASL. The Railheads struck first in the ninth minute as Ty Shipalane booted a chip pass in the direction of Enzo Martinez.
Enzo proceeded to leg the ball to Zack Schilawski who successfully found the net in the near post for an early 1-0 lead.
Minute 23 FC Dallas answered back when JeVaughn Watson provided a crisp feed to Tesho Akindele on the right side of the field. Nearing the corner Akindele booted a cross pass that Blas Perez headed past Carolina’s goalkeeper Scott Goodwin.
FC Dallas took the lead 11 minutes later when Andrew Jacobson placed a ball straight to Watson. Watson then proceeded to take the ball into an open area before hitting a pass in front of the end line to Perez for another goal and a 2-1 lead as his second goal went to the right of Goodwin.
Carolina answered right back in the 37th minute when Nazmi Albadawi took a pass and fed it towards Cesar Elizondo. Elizondo placed a foot to the ball and fired, only to be denied by Moises Hernandez and a perfectly timed slide.
It was ruled that Hernandez placed a palm on the block and a penalty kick was awarded to Martinez. Enzo managed to misdirect Raul Fernandez with the kick which found the far corner of the net and a 2-2 score.
One minute before halftime FC Dallas made it 3-2 on an Andres Escobar feed to Fabian Castillo which gave the striker a clear shot into the back of the net.
FC Dallas would strike two more times in the 89th and 90th minutes when Fabian Castillo was able to fake goalie Gooswin out of the net, allowing Mauro Diaz to make an unobstructed shot. Castillo then gave Blas Perez the hattie in minute 90 as Blas would connect on the far end of the goal for a 5-2 final score.
Shot on goal and corner kicks favored FC Dallas 9-3 and 4-1.
FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja had some strong thoughts post game.
“In the first half we allowed two goals that won’t [allow] us sleep easily. We want to stay organized in the back and keep improving but at the same time we were aggressive up front, created a lot of chances and the plan going forward worked very well. In the second half, we corrected things and we were more solid. We dropped our pressure and let them come to us a little bit. Our boys did a great job covering a lot of ground in a game that was dependent on our transition and the transition in the second half. I have to recognize that the whole team did an excellent job in that plan.”
Any second half adjustments that you made?
“We played with a full back in the first half that was assigned to attack more and be an outlet. Carolina was affecting us on that side, getting behind and it was because we asked him to go forward. We needed to get some solidness and moved to a back four. We put in a defender to be more solid. We dropped off the high pressure and gave them the ball more on purpose because we wanted to hurt them with speed and transition [on the counterattack].”
The significance of this win was snapping a 23 game home winning streak for Carolina?
“I played for Colin [Clarke, head coach of the RailHawks]. I worked for him as an assistant coach and learned a lot of things about the game. Being with him was an honor and the work that he did with FC Dallas was outstanding. All the work he did was remarkable. Coming here and facing him was a challenge certainly and it was a privilege also for me as well as Marco [Ferruzzi, FC Dallas assistant coach] but at the end of the day the game belonged to the players. They’re the ones that need to get the [accolades]. Tonight I want to highlight what the players did in the field. For us it’s a great step into the semifinals of a cup that we want to win.”
Understandably Blas Perez was ecstatic about his play this night.
“The first goal was a great ball from Tesho [Akindele]. The second one was Je-Vaughn [Watson], who sent me great service so I could finish. The third goal, I was a little bit tired. I had just come back to defend. I gave one last sprint and Fabian got me the ball and I got the third goal.”
Perez also had some positives to share about the recent play of Fabian Castillo.
“Fabian is having a great season both in Open Cup and in the league. I’m very happy for him because he’s gotten more mature and listens to everyone. Going forward Fabian is a fundamental piece of the team and if he’s good it’s going to make everyone else good around him.”
FC Dallas enjoys a ten day break before taking on the New England Revolution (sponsored by Albertsons Market) at 8pm on July 19 before playing a friendly with Aston Villa on July 23 (sponsored by Moneygram). This game will see a lot of the reserves getting some playing time.
The Revolution also in fourth place like FC Dallas with a 7-8-2 record compared to the 7-7-5 mark Team FCD currently employs. FC Dallas with 26 points with a win can leapfrog past the Rapids and Real Salt Lake for second place as the Western Conference remains tight behind the far ahead Seattle Sounders.
And… in the event FC Dallas gets past Philadelphia on August 12 they will play the winner of the Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders in their semi final matchup to be played in Tukwila, Wa.
The next 30 days will be busy and hectic for the boys from Frisco. They continue to get healthier and regaining swagger that was lost earlier in the season. May is now but a memory.