COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- FC Dallas had the early second half lead and looked primed to steal three points in an all-important Western Conference showdown with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night. Rapids midfielder Vicente Sanchez, however, had other ideas.
The creative veteran turned in a dazzling display, scoring the game-tying goal and sending a cross that led to the game-winner as the Rapids collected three critical points in a 2-1 victory over Dallas on a rain-slicked Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
After David Ferriera put Dallas ahead in the 51st, Sanchez drilled home the equalizer in the 59th and crossed a ball for Gabriel Torres that was knocked in by Dallas defender Matt Hedges to give the Rapids the lead in the 65th. The 33-year-old’s outstanding display moved Colorado alone into the West’s third spot with five games left on the season while also giving them their third victory in four matches.
FC Dallas, meanwhile, remained stuck on 40 points and two points behind Portland for the fifth and final playoff spot in the West while seeing their three-game unbeaten run come to a close.
After the game start was delayed 50 minutes due to a thunderstorm, the Rapids collected the match’s first opportunity on Dillon Powers’ sixth minute free kick, which sailed just past Raul Fernandez’s goal. Dallas slowly started to work their way into the match, and Jackson’s open look on goal in the 24th minute narrowly went over the crossbar.
As the opening half drew on, the action amped up. Sanchez wreaked havoc along the left wing, creating multiple opportunities for the Rapids, but the home team couldn’t convert despite holding a 58-42 halftime possession advantage. The two teams went into the half scoreless.
Despite the Rapids’ first half advantage, it was the visitors who got on the scoreboard first. Jair Benitez took a pass along the left wing and crossed it perfectly across goal for Ferreira, who slid in front of goal for the close-range finish and the 1-0 lead.
Seven minutes later, however, the Rapids had their equalizer. Two Dallas defenders tried to head away Chris Klute’s cross into the box, but the ball popped right to Sanchez on the left side of the penalty box and the Uruguayan brilliantly volleyed home for the 59th minute equalizer. Sanchez’s magic continued six minutes later. He dribbled around George John and delivered a cross in front of goal that Hedges accidentally tipped into his own net with Torres hot on his trail.
Dallas mounted an assault on Clint Irwin’s net in the final 25 minutes of the match, but the visitors couldn’t capitalize on a series of chances and left with nothing to show despite holding the second half lead.
FC Dallas head to New York for a showdown next Sunday against the Red Bulls (4 pm CT, UniMas).