By IVES GALARCEP
Blas Perez has had a busy week. The Panamanian striker has led the line for his country’s national team, helping ‘Los Caneleros’ move into first place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying.
The fatigue associated with international duty kept Perez from starting on Saturday night for a streaking FC Dallas side, but when he came off the bench he provided a reminder of just why he is so important to Schellas Hyndman’s squad.
Perez delivered an 87th-minute game-winning goal to help FC Dallas secure a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
Perez started the scoring sequence by dribbling over midfield and sparking an attractive passing sequence that culminated with David Ferreira floating a cross into the area. Perez beat Revs defender Jose Goncalves to the ball, heading it just inside the left post for the winner.
The goal snapped a scoreless deadlock that saw FC Dallas enjoy more possessions, and more chances, but New England’s stingy defense made things difficult until Perez broke through with the winner.
The victory improved FC Dallas to 4-1 on the season, good for sole possession of first place in the MLS Western Conference. The win also snapped an eight-match winless streak at Gillette Stadium for FC Dallas.
“A big part is that the team really enjoys each other,” FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “You never know how important team chemistry is until you lose it. We struggled with that the last year and a half.
“This year, the guys are really playing for each other. They’re working for each other. They are following directions. They are having great training sessions.”
New England’s attack struggled to score yet again, though the Revs did manage more shots on goal than the Hoops. Jay Heaps’ squad has managed just one goal in four matches, tied with the Chicago Fire for worst offense in MLS.
“It was a tough game for us,” Revs head coach Jay Heaps said. “Our second half was much better than our first half. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as you know. We’ve got to get better in a lot of areas from the coaches to the players and every aspect of the game, from set pieces to offensive set pieces, defensive set pieces, to moving the ball, to attacking, to … just all areas of the game need to get better.
“I think that the first half, there wasn’t enough movement, there wasn’t enough playing the ball quickly and a lot of what we worked on all week just seemed to go away,” Heaps said. “And then in the second half, that was more our group but unfortunately you need 90 minutes to unlock a team. You need more than 45 minutes to play and unfortunately we only came for 45 minutes.
The FC Dallas defense deserves credit for another strong showing, while the midfield tandem of Michel and Andrew Jacobson turned in a stellar outing in the middle of the park.
Here are the match highlights.