It’s the kind of last-ditch goal that you wait an entire season for. You watch as your team anguishes through 90 plus minutes of scoreless action just to build you up to a final moment of ecstasy.
It’s the kind of moment that every sports fan lives and dies by. You will support your team through thick and thin, wins and losses, just to experience one moment like what happened Saturday night at Toyota Stadium.
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While this all might be a bit hyperbolic and may seem a bit overstated, the significance of the three points that FC Dallas earned Saturday against San Jose cannot be overstated. Forget the moment; let’s focus on the outcome.
This was a game that FCD desperately needed to win. Apart from the importance of getting off to a good start and setting the tone early in the season, the game itself always looked Dallas’ for the taking.
Lining up in their traditional 4-5-1, the combined attacking threat of Akindele, Diaz, Castillo, and Perez looked dangerous from the start. A straightforward free kick routine in the 22nd minute nearly gave the hosts an early lead. Just seconds later, Blas saw his effort fly past the Earthquakes keeper only to be then cleared frantically off the line.
Even with chance after chance throughout the match, FCD always seemed to be lacking the clinical finish to their attacking moves. To be honest, it looked a lot like last year at times: great attacking play with a final touch much to be desired. I had flashbacks of Castillo’s misses in the first leg of the playoffs against Seattle.
Thankfully, wily old veteran Blas Perez was finally able to find the breakthrough he needed in the 92nd minute and quell my soon-t0-be nightmares. The goal was a cherry of top of a fine performance from the Panamanian. His younger counterparts dazzled with their flair and pace, but the steely Perez always looked the most likely to find the back of the net.
It seems fitting that it would be Perez to score the winner. What with all the talk coming into the season about the wealth of young and talented players FCD has (this writer is no exception), Perez had to come and save the day to show the youngsters that they still have a thing or two to learn from the “old” striker.
And when you look at how other teams in the Western Conference fared on the opening weekend, the three points earned over the weekend could prove crucial.
Seattle looked stupid good in their opening match against the much-acclaimed New England Revolution. If you want to talk about making a statement, look no farther than that game. The Sounders made a preseason frontrunner look like a five-year-old boy challenging his dad to an arm wrestling contest.
On top of that LA started their first game in the post-Landon Donovan era with a 2-0 thumping of the Chicago Fire. While that game doesn’t quite make the statement that the Seattle game does, it goes to show that LA will be a force once again in the Western Conference (just wait until they get Stevie G…I’m scared).
I firmly believe that it’s never too early to look at the significance of every single point gained. The two points that Blas earned FCD in stoppage time could be the points that separate Dallas from a playoff spot and a seat on the couch at the end of the regular season. They could mean the difference between a one and a two seed. Heck, they might not mean anything, but three looks a lot better than one in the table after week one.
Anything less than the full three points would have been a great disappointment in the context of both the game and FC Dallas’ aspirations this year. Also, a draw would have seen us below Houston in the table for the first time in, well, a very long time. That would have been harder to stomach than the draw itself.