Allen, TX – The Dallas Sidekicks (11-3) came into their match against the Rockford Rampage (7-7) winding down their re-birth season and looking to clinch a playoff spot. It was also a particularly important night for the club as they retired coach Tatu’s #9 jersey from his playing days with the Sidekicks. The ceremony was special for Tatu, his family and the fans and the team capped the festive evening by delivering on the turf with an overwhelming performance.
This time we’re gonna get funky
Tatu watches the video tribute to him. Photo credit: Jay Berlo
Dallas dominated the proceedings from the opening kickoff. They controlled possession so thoroughly in the first quarter that Rockford only had two very short forays into the Sidekicks’ zone and only one official shot on goal. The rest of the time Dallas was neatly connecting passes together like they were playing keepaway until they decided to take a crack at the Rampage’s goal, which they did often. Rockford keeper Ante Cop must have felt like he was the last guy standing back in a junior high game of dodgeball as the shots came at him low, high and from every conceivable angle. Dallas had ten shots in total for the period (33 for the game), but only one goal to show for their efforts after the first period.
Everybody clap your hands!
The Sidekicks very quickly found their range in the second quarter as they scored three goals in a span of 51 seconds. Tatu’s men have clearly learned from their mentor as they put on an absolute infomercial in how to execute the give-and-go. Forward Shaun David had one in particular where his pass, run, return reception and shot past Cop were so fluid that he could have just been out for a casual jog. Combine that with Sidekicks’ goal keeper Sagu’s pinpoint distribution from the back and the Rampage had their work cut out for them just to stay in the match. The half ended with the Sidekicks up 6-2.
Clap clap clap clap clap
At halftime, the Dallas Sidekicks honored the man who for many years was not only the face of their franchise and the indoor game, but the face of soccer in Dallas, period. It’s impossible to overstate how big Tatu was in the Dallas area in the late ‘80’s and ‘90’s as there was a time where his name was as well known on the Dallas sports landscape as any other in town. The video tribute reflected this as Nolan Ryan, Dirk Nowitzki, Roger Staubach and Mike Modano each had messages (along with framed jerseys from their respective teams) intermixed with those from former teammates and fans. Tatu himself gave a very emotional speech that resonated with any father in the room, thanking former teammates, coaches, owners, the fans and most of all his own kids. He made at least one (supposedly) impartial observer very glad to have been a fan of his since childhood.
Take it back now ya’ll…one hop this time
After an extended halftime that would have had Super Bowl officials looking at their watches, the second half kicked off. The Sidekicks showed no adverse effects from the delay as they racked up another ten shots on goal in the third period and extended their lead to 9 – 2. Former FC Dallas midfielder Bruno Guarda combined nicely with Shaun David to set up him up for the team’s seventh goal on his way to a Man of the Match performance. For the night, Guarda had two goals and three assists and he consistently broke down the Rockford defense in the final third with killer passes to create chances for teammates.
Cha Cha now y’all
The Rampage made it mildly interesting in the fourth period by scoring three unanswered goals to cut Dallas’ lead to 10 – 5, but that was as close as they’d get. The Sidekicks closed out the game in style with four unanswered goals of their own to make the final tally 14 – 5. This was the Sidekicks’ second highest scoring match of the season (they scored 16 against the Texas Strikers in December) and with the win they clinched the PASL’s Central Division title.
Dallas plays their last regular season match on Saturday, February 23rd against the Texas Strikers at the Allen Events Center. They’ll then host an opening round playoff game against an opponent to be determined on February 28th.
Tatu’s career statistics:
- Played 18 seasons
- 557 games
- 736 goals
- 672 assists
- 1,408 points
- 4,182 shots
- 98 power play goals
- 68 game winning goals
- 7 overtime goals
- 6 time MVP
- 11 time scoring champion
- 12 time All-Star
- 3 time championship series MVP
- Only player involved in all four Sidekicks championships
Possible Guinness World Record:
- “Cha Cha Slide” by DJ Casper was sampled at least 17 times during game play