Oscar Pareja lauds FC Dallas' "character" after fighting back to draw Sporting KC
Some points can be more important than others.
And FC Dallas’ share of the spoils after playing Sporting Kansas City to a 1-1 draw Saturday night at Sporting Park is certainly an important step for new head coach Oscar Pareja and his young, rebuilt side. FCD not only weathered an early storm from the defending MLS Cup champions – making their debut at the site where they last hoisted the league’s trophy – but they also didn’t back down in a rough-and-tumble game and ultimately rebounded after going down a goal late.
“Their aggressiveness in that part of the game was overwhelming,” Pareja said of Sporting’s set-piece prowess in his postgame comments. “But, our team showed a lot of character ... started showing some control and started to level the game."
In what proved to be a tale of two halves, Sporting dominated possession in the first 45 and outshot FCD 10-3. Despite not seeing much of Sporting's penalty area during the first half, FCD managed to contain the bulk of play in the middle of the pitch and consequently neutralized KC's overwhelming advantage in possession and aggression.
"I thought the first 30 minutes, Kansas City put us on our heels," Pareja said. "Corner kicks – we gave away a lot of set pieces.”
But the visitors bounced back after the break to begin creating chances. Dallas began to turn the tide and was dictating the pace for much of the second 45 and looked to be in position to earn a point or even steal the full three. But that’s when Collin rose unmarked on a corner kick in the 81st minute and headed SKC into the lead.
That could have easily been the end of things for Dallas, a team that suffered an 11-game winless streak last season.
"After the goal [by] Collins, we showed heart, and that's what I'm very proud of tonight," said Pareja. "We showed heart and we showed character and I know these players and our team is fated to do big things this year."
The heroics transpired when new young Designated Player David Texeira, a late substitute, was fouled in the attacking area. On the restart, Michel, another second-half sub, sent a finely placed free kick into the area, where Hedges rose and nodded it past SKC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg for the well-earned point.