The Man (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
FC Dallas showed the resiliency we've seen out of them all season with a huge 2-1 come from behind victory, beating an RSL team that was 15-1-1 when scoring the first goal this season.
Refuse to lose. We've seen it all year out of this team and we saw it again on Saturday afternoon. You saw in the stat I posted above just how bleak things are when RSL scores the first goal in a game, but Dallas would not be denied a victory. What a huge, huge statement by FC Dallas to the rest of the league that this is not your father's Dallas Burn. No matter what happens the rest of the playoffs, Dallas has proved today that this team has guts and will not lay down in Salt Lake. A sensational way to send home your fans in what could be the last PHP game of the year.
A fantastic performance from the defense today. Some might be unhappy with the defense, but RSL has to be scratching their noggins about how they'll score twice next week with Hartman in goal. It took a fantastic effort from Espindola to beat Hartman and other than that RSL was pretty devoid of any offensive ideas until the last few minutes of the game. Just one corner kick for RSL today tells the story.
Coach of the Year stuff from Schellas Hyndman tonight. I'm sure Hyndman will be the first one to tell you that the same players that make you look like a genius sometimes will make you look like a buffoon at others, but every decision Schellas made tonight turned to gold. The Cunningham substitution may have been forced, but JC9's goal would never have been scored by Uncle Milton.
Brek Shea's pace and size gave the RSL backline fits and the Avila contribution was obvious. A brilliant final substitution by Schellas Hyndman that was a huge morale boost to the rest of the team and gave RSL a shot that will take a lot of work to recover from
More observations including something that returned for FCD tonight that they've been missing lately, quotes and links after the jump
Speaking of Brek Shea, he needs to start next Saturday. FCD may have stumbled into something last night and that was long balls to Shea give the RSL backline a lot of problems. It nearly earned FC Dallas a penalty and another time would've given Shea a clear breakaway had his first touch not let him down. It's like they play the same balls that they send to Harris, but Shea actually has the skill to corral the passes. Shea offers something so much different than anything else FCD has to offer and could be devastating on the counter attack next weekend.
Something returned last night and that was the FCD center midfield backbone. The absence of Hernandez changed everything the last 6 weeks or so and he was back at his best last night. It really is amazing how Hernandez raises the game of McCarty and Ferreira as well. As these three players go, so does FC Dallas. A captains performance from DH tonight.
Regarding the red cards. Would Atiba Harris be given a red card if Morales hadn't been sent off 5 minutes earlier? Who knows, Harris only had eyes for the ball and did not swing his elbow, but it was a stupid stupid play and the red card cannot be argued. Neither can Morales' and for those who say Dax was not kicked in the face, there was blood coming out of his mouth clearly seen on TV afterward. No Atiba Harris or Javier Morales in leg 2....there are some who would say both those things favor FCD.
Final thoughts. A gutty performance from a Dallas team that has been lacking those guts the last few weeks. With Hartman and Hernandez on the field, Dallas is an extremely difficult team to beat. You can't go into Rio Tinto stadium looking for a 0-0 draw, but without Morales on the field RSL is going to need something special to score. About as good a result, all things considered, Dallas could hope for from this one. It's going to be an absolute madhouse in Salt Lake next Saturday night.
MLSSoccer.com is absolutely kicking ass in their coverage of this game. All these quotes are taken from the excellent MLSSoccer.com post-game videos
A great comeback by us, Cunningham the man you can count on and what a great goal by Avila at the end....We were going for the win, we were at home we felt like we had to get the win and we threw more firepower up there...
Message to Avila when he came on the field
Not to pass up any opportunities, to get forward, the thing that he does so well is he takes people on. He's brought a lot of energy to this team coming on. A lot of people are tired they don't expect much but again he did the same thing against Columbus when he came on at the end and this could be the biggest goal he's ever scored for us.
You take the lead going into a place where they have a 32 game unbeaten streak, it's a tall order.
It is [a tall order]. That's why we wanted to get it done today. It's an interesting psycological thing I said to them at halftime "we can go out there and take the tie...because they want the tie or we can go for the win what do you want?" They all jumped up and said we want the win so that shows the kind of character this team has from the beginning of the season until now.
When you came on what was coach's instructions to you?
To go forward, as soon as I get the ball to go forward. Just keep my shape and as soon as I get the ball going forward then I've just got to go for it.
I think we have to look at it like it's a 90 minute game and it's 2-1 at halftime. We can't look at it like we won one game. We have to look at it as a gigantic 180 minute game....I know for a fact they're going to miss Javi [Morales]
I think everybody left everything they had out on the field. I know I did because I could barely walk after the game. That's what the playoffs is about. A lot of these guys haven't experienced the playoffs yet and maybe it took a little bit of time to get into the game....we shut them down and they got the early goal but besides that I thought we did a great job.
We needed a loss. It's been forever. This will give us a nice little wake up call, were still in it. Things are up, we're alright we know it's only halftime, even if we won we knew it was only going to be halftime tonight....the confidence is there, we'll wait until the next 90 minutes is over before we give up.
The Deseret News gamer from James Edward with a pretty hilarious quote from Chris Wingert that tells you all you need to know about RSL's strategy for stopping Ferreira
"I was behind, so I couldn't really crush him," said defender Chris Wingert. "I tried to get enough of him, I tried to hold him up twice. But credit to him, he stayed up."
Wisely the referee let the advantage play out and Avila made the most of it.
"Ferreira made the whole play, he's got two or three of our players draped all over him and none of us made the game-saving tackle on him or perhaps a game-saving foul," said Kreis.
Steve Hunt's DMN gamer
The game took a turn when Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales was ejected in the 69th minute after receiving his second yellow card. Morales, a key member of the RSL attack, will also miss next week's match.
"He's a big factor for them. He's the one that pulls the strings," Hyndman said. "It's a huge loss for them, but they're a good team."
Hunt also has a blurb up about the red cards
"It was certainly a turning point in the game," McCarty said. "I saw him coming in for it and expected him to go in with his head, so I went in and challenged for it. The next thing I know, I felt some pain in my mouth area and knew he had put his foot pretty high there."
Michael C. Lewis writes for the Salt Lake Tribune that the red card was a tough blow for RSL
“Certainly, it will hurt,” coach Jason Kreis said. “He’s a very, very important player for us, as we know. But we’ve had him out for a stretch this season … and we got results without him, as well. We believe in what we’ve built here in this group and next week shouldn’t be any different.”