Allen, TX – The Dallas Sidekicks hosted their first playoff game in almost nine years years (to be fair, most of those years the club was on hiatus) on Thursday at the Allen Event Center. Dallas entered the second leg of their two-game playoff series with the Rio Grande Flash facing a one-goal deficit after a 5-4 overtime loss in the first leg last Sunday in McAllen, TX.
The Sidekicks had not lost at home all season (8-0), but ominously were 1-3 when their opponent scores first and 0-3 when trailing at the end of the first quarter. Dallas controlled possession early and peppered Flash keeper Juan Gamboa’s goal with shots, but few were on frame and none found the back of the net. Then at the 10:50 mark of the first quarter, Rio Grande Valley midfielder Jorge Quiroz set up fellow midfielder Edgar Flores for the first goal of the match. The goal came on a quick counter, was against the run of play, and it immediately seemed to deflate the Sidekicks.
Barely two minutes later, Flash forward Alejandro Morales hit a nice curling shot from outside the arc that found the upper left corner of the net, just beyond Sidekicks’ keeper Sagu’s fully out-stretched arm. Now down 2-0 in the game and down three goals on aggregate, the Sidekicks started pressing the action. Rio Grande Valley maintained excellent defensive shape (the story of the match in my eyes) and kept the Sidekicks from getting any good chances. Frustration began to show as the ‘Kicks racked up fouls and ended the quarter down 2-0.
About halfway through the second, the Sidekicks had a glimmer of hope when they earned a power play after a Flash player was called for tripping. But Edgar Flores scored a shorthanded goal (his second) on a breakaway. The dagger was seemingly placed minutes later when a defensive mishap by the Sidekicks set up the Flash for an easy goal and 4-0 lead.
But then in the third period, the Sidekicks mounted a furious comeback led by Franck Mbemba’s hat trick. They tied the game with just over three minutes left in the period and the Allen Event Center faithful (who led the PASL in attendance during the regular season) were going wild and sensing a historic comeback. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be as Rio Grande Valley closed out the period with three quick goals and then coasted to an 8-5 victory.
The Flash will travel to San Diego for the final four tournament while the Sidekicks’ rebirth season is now officially over. Although it ended in disappointment, their return to the Dallas sports scene has to be considered a success and fans have a lot to look forward to next season.