With a very difficult upcoming April schedule, FC Dallas really needed all three points to keep pace in the Western Conference and restore some confidence to a team that hadn't won since opening day. After 90 minutes of frustration, Blas Perez earned a free kick that Zach Loyd brilliantly curled into the box and up stepped team captain Ugo Ihemelu whose looping header found the far post and slipped into the goal to earn FCD a dramatic three points.
For FC Dallas, who game out with a surprise back four that saw Zach Loyd at left back and Hernan Pertuz at right back, it was the first clean sheet of the season and a brilliant defensive performance that earned Dallas the opportunity to win it in the 95th minute. A few thoughts on the top of my head before watching the game again.
4-4-2 Obviously the biggest story at kickoff was the long-rumored move to a 4-4-2 formation that saw Fabian Castillo paired up top with Blas Perez. The results were mixed, but Fabian was probably the most dangerous attacker all night with his speed adding a dimension to the FC Dallas attack that was missing the last few weeks.
The biggest story after the game for me is the clean sheet. New England put three goals on Los Angeles last weekend and FC Dallas effectively shut down Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe all evening. New England enjoyed about 10 good minutes of play at the end of the first half, but other than that the Dallas defense held very strong. When you keep a clean sheet, all you need is one goal to win a game whether it comes in the first or the last minute and that's what we saw tonight.
Good signs from Shea I saw some really good signs from Brek Shea tonight. He did drift in and out of the game, but he was instrumental in many Dallas attacks as they pushed for the late winner when he realized that Florian Lechner simply could not contain him. When Fabian Castillo drifted out wide to his side, they proved to be a very good combination. Also, I thought Carlos Rodriguez had a nice game and showed some refuse to lose mentality late in the affair.
One more thought and the post-game quote sheet after the jump
Because I don't want it to get lost in the shuffle I was very nervous when Matt Hedges came into this game, it wasn't exactly the easiest spot to make your MLS debut. However, I thought the rookie did very well in his 20 minutes, nearly grabbing the game winner and being on the pitch for the best moment of the season so far. His defending was composed and he showed some flashes of possibly being a guy who can step in and start if George John is not with FC Dallas past this year.
Schellas Hyndman - FC Dallas Head Coach
General thoughts on the game…
"I thought it was a really exciting game. I thought we played well the first half. I thought Fabian (Castillo) was causing a lot of problems that they were not able to handle and we created some nice scoring chances. The second half, I thought we came out a little bit slower. I thought their tactic of getting a little bit more depth so Fabian wouldn’t be able to run by them was good for them. But, I thought in this game we probably created more quality chances. Looking at the clock going down to 90 minutes, it looked like it was going to be a tie, but both teams were really going after the three points."
On Ricardo Villar’s status…
"We’re not sure. He twisted his foot. We’ll get an X-ray on it and see how he is.
On George John’s status…
"I think with all the recent studies on concussions, you always want to favor the protection of the player. I thought we did everything right and he will be evaluated by the experts."
On Ugo Ihemelu’s game-winning goal…
"The goal was great. I don’t know if you all noticed or not, but he was cramping when he came over to the side and he and I had a discussion about pulling him out because he didn’t know if he was going to be able to get that cramp out of his leg and I shared this with the team after the game. One of the things we’d talked about (pre-game) was to challenge yourself tonight and to challenge your teammates and what a great example for a captain to stay in there and wanting to play to the end and then come out on top with the game-winning goal."
Defender Ugo Ihemelu
On the ball played in by Zach Loyd that led to the winning goal...
You have to compliment Zach for stepping up and being brave enough to put himself in that position. He sent a ball in a little earlier that was really dangerous and got us a corner kick. Right before the one I scored on, he made eye contact with me so I knew he was coming to me. All the compliments go to him.
On playing through cramping late in the match…
I went off and Josh [FC Dallas Head Athletic Trainer Josh Watts] was trying to work out the cramp, but it wasn’t going away. I knew we had one more sub left and I didn’t want us to have to use it on another injury, so I just tried to stay out there for as long as I could. Fortunately, after Josh worked on it, it calmed down a little bit, I stayed in and it worked out for us.
On the team’s focus heading into tonight’s match…
Today, when the game started we spoke about putting in a solid 90-minute performance. We talked about staying positive, playing well the entire game. Tonight we were able to maintain our focus and work for each other. This puts us back on track where we want to be. It gives us something to build on moving forward.
FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges
Feelings on his first professional appearance…
It feels awesome. I am always ready to come in and help the team. It makes it even better that tonight when the opportunity came, we were able to get a win.
On how FC Dallas played tonight…
It was a good overall performance by the team. We kept the ball. We moved it around. We got some good opportunities. Again, it was a good overall performance by everybody.
On New England…
New England had put together two solid wins in a row against strong opponents, so we knew we were going to have to play well to pull out a victory. We had a good showing and we were able to get the result we wanted.
New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps
General thoughts on the game…
I thought Dallas dodged just as many bullets as we did. We did a good job. We had 60 percent possession of the ball. Unfortunately at the end there, when it felt like we at least had a chance to get a draw, we didn’t finish it well.
Thoughts on deciding factors for the game’s outcome…
The chances [Dallas had] came from when we gave the ball away, when we made a few mistakes. Dictating the pace of this game was important for us. We are at a point where we need a little time to get our legs back.
Thoughts on the loss…
It is a tough way for the game to finish. It felt like we played well enough to get at least something out of the game whether it was a draw or three points. At the end of the game, we got ahead of ourselves a little with the momentum and we just couldn’t keep up.
Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph
On Kelyn Rowe…
From day one Kelyn came in and worked hard, you tell him what we need and he just puts his head down and works for the team. And that’s what we need. He’s good on the ball and he’s good when he is going against people. He can use both feet. He’s a good kid. He works hard and the sky is the limit for Kelyn.
Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe
On suffering a tough loss…
It’s tough that we played well. We really came out especially in the second half and played tough. We created some chances that unfortunately we couldn’t put away. We slipped up for five seconds and they did well to score a goal.
Were there any adjustments at half time?
Coach [Jay Heaps] made no adjustments position-wise or anything like that. He came in like, "look you guys are doing all right, just keep your heads up and let’s go out there and give them what we know we have. We saw it against L.A. We saw it against Portland. We need to see it again here and tonight." And we did.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis
How did you feel about how you guys played in that first half?
We did all right. We definitely did not play our best game. We were a little bit off and we were not as cohesive as we needed to be. That being said, it was 0-0 at halftime. We came out in the second half and really turned it up a notch. We had them on their back foot for most of the second half. Unfortunately, we didn’t do the right things at the end of the game.
They had some good opportunities in the beginning of the game, and you made some nice saves, talk about how you did individually.
I did what I needed to do back there. I kept us in the game as long as possible.
What was your experience with the tornados that came in town?
The weather came in, the hotel got on the intercom and said there was weather coming our way and it would be best if we seek cover. The hotel was great. The staff was great and everything was very orderly.
Are you happy with the way you guys played up until the goal?
No, I think we definitely did not play our best game. We did enough to at least get a point, but it was not in the cards tonight.