In their first true international competition in over a decade, FC Dallas was victorious, taking a 1-0 victory at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador, El Salvador. It was a hard fought first half with Alianza providing relentless pressure on the FCD backline, creating multiple chances that Kevin Hartman saved brilliantly.
The Salvadorians would be forced to rue their misses as in the 70th minute the FC Dallas offense would finally string together a nice attacking sequence with Jackson did his best Neymar impression flicking the ball around a defender and cooly slotting it under the keeper to give FC Dallas the vital away goal and a 1-0 result to take home to Frisco.
For FC Dallas, it is the first ever international club competition win and a historic occasion for the team. Dallas heads back to Frisco with a vital goal advantage against a team that seemed to not really be up to the par of FC Dallas, but beneficiaries of some nervous Dallas players in the Estadio Cuscatlan.
Job well done and half done It's far from over, but FC Dallas did exactly what they needed to do and exactly what I expected would come from the game. Alianza showed they were no pushovers early, but they were never going to be able to keep up the pressure for 90 minutes and Dallas really took over in the second half.
Lessons learned It was a shaky win tonight. Dallas could have easily conceded in the first half, but credit to a bunch of the guys who looked very nervous for settling down in the second half. Zach Loyd in particular had a few shocking turnovers in the first 20 minutes, but really settled down in the second half. These are all learning experiences and they were able to get this experience while still winning the game. Huge, just huge.
Jackson! Where would FCD be without this guy right now? Brek Shea is the MVP of this team, but Jackson is making his case for runner up. It looked like he was even pushed up to forward in the second half. I was fully expecting a 0-0 result and he provided the moment of magic that won it for Dallas.
How cool is this? It's just so damn cool to see FC Dallas playing on the international stage. Hopefully this is the first of many because I enjoyed the hell out of this game. Wednesday can't get here fast enough.
Knee Jerk Player Ratings
Kevin Hartman 8 (Man of the Match) This game doesn't stay scoreless in the first half without him. Quick and decisive off his line and strong in the air. Classic performance from El Gato
Zach Loyd 6 His mistakes early could have easily led to goals, however he didn't get down and recovered very nicely. One of the best players in the second half
George John 6 Quiet night, strong in the air. Gained priceless experience of playing in Central America. He will be better in future CONCACAF games.
Ugo Ihemelu 7.5 Dallas best defender on the night. His recovery to block an Alianza shot late was brilliant.
Jair Benitez 6.5 Always scary from him but generally had an alright game
Daniel Hernandez 6.5 Quiet, calming game from him. Rarely turned the ball over and provided his typical leadership.
Jackson 7.5 Provided the game winner almost single-handedly. Didn't do a whole lot other than that, but he got the goal, he gets the credit.
Bruno Guarda 6 Decent, quiet game. Turned the ball over a lot early but settled down.
Brek Shea 7 Provided his usual attacking danger but it never quite came off for him tonight. I bet he scores two against them in the return leg next week.
Ricardo Villar 6.5 Decent set piece service but other than that very quiet.
Marvin Chavez 6 Was he on the field tonight?