FRISCO, Texas — When FC Dallas entered the locker room at halftime, they saw that someone had written “refuse to lose” on the large dry erase board in the middle of the room.
Trailing New England 1-0 at the break, the team took those words to heart and played much better in the final half, fighting back to score two late goals to draw New England 2-2.
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“I think that [phrase] says a lot about our team,” Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “A lot of times, when you’re down 2-0, you just disappear, and these guys didn’t.
“It ended on a good note,” he continued. “We keep our [16-game] unbeaten streak going, but we want to get points. At the end of the day, we got a point.”
After a goal by Shalrie Joseph in the fifth minute gave the Revs a surprising early lead, FCD had a chance to draw things level before the half drew to a close. David Ferreira, however, missed a penalty kick in the 34th minute that would have been an equalizer. That misfire was indicative of what a lackluster performance the team had in the opening frame.
“It didn’t seem like we were playing with a lot of connection in the first half. We were trying to do the right things and then we’d turn over that last touch, the first touch let us down or whatever,” Hyndman said.
Another thing that was apparent from FCD’s mostly listless performance in the first 45 was just how much they missed captain Daniel Hernandez, who is out with a pulled left hamstring.
“The thing Daniel brings is the coaching mentality on the field and he helps people play with confidence,” Hyndman said about his holding midfielder. “Not having that, who are you going to turn to? I didn’t think we had [the leadership quality Hernandez brings] in the first half.”
FCD right back Heath Pearce agreed the effort he and the rest of the first 11 showed in the first half was unacceptable.
“Every player on the field was silent. There was no cohesion,” Pearce said. “We were flat. We had the normal flow of the game, but we weren’t sharp on our passes and weren’t sharp on our finishing. I think a lot of elements came into our mentality and that affected us in an extremely negative way.”[inline_node:319022]
Things went from bad to worse when New England’s Ilija Stolica made it 2-0 in the 66th minute. But through it all, FCD never quit. They cut it to 2-1 when Ferreira scored a penalty kick in the 80th and came away with the draw when Jeff Cunningham netted a goal in stoppage time.
“When they went up 2-0, everybody went flat for a couple of minutes and said, ‘Alright, we’re going to write off today,’” said Pearce. “In a minute or two, everybody wrote that whole idea off and decided we were going to push on them until the end. We did that and it showed through at the end of the game.”
Assisting on Cunningham’s goal was Ferreira and fellow midfielder Eric Avila, who also noticed the mentality of his team swing after the Revs second goal.
“As soon as the second goal came in, we thought, ‘Here comes our losing streak. Let’s move on to the next,’” Avila said. “Something happened. Our team has heart. We didn’t feel like giving up. We kept going and want to make ourselves better.
“As soon as we hit the first goal, we got some life back in us,” continued Avila. “There was enough time for us to go and attack. It took the whole team to go out and do it.”
Addressing the media at the end of the match, Hyndman admitted he had a sinking feeling heading into Wednesday’s game about how his club might fare due to missing five starters.
“I was concerned about this game the whole day. I said it in the locker room to the coaches, ‘I don’t have a good feel here because what we were missing was the leadership and the motivation,’” the FCD manager said.
But all it took was three words written on a dry erase board to help turn things around.