FRISCO – The Texas summer heat hits everyone the same way –– it becomes unbearable and it can easily drain your fight. But, FC Dallas knows more than anyone how to handle it and Wednesday night as the game eclipsed the 100th minute, the home side knew they could outlast their foes from Colorado.
“Yeah we knew that it's hot here and we knew that would affect them,” Victor Ulloa said after his team’s 2-1 come-from-behind win that took the full 90 plus 30 minutes of extra time.
Ulloa came on in the 59th minute and gave his side some much-needed life. Trailing 1-0 after a first half goal by Colorado’s Dominique Badji, he knew his team needed new life in the midfield and he gave exactly that.
“All you have to do is play well when you come in,” Ulloa said. “I knew personally that people were getting tired and I just wanted to give the team fresh legs and I'm glad that I could.”
In Ulloa’s 56 minutes of work, he was a perfect 31-of-31 passing, including 14-of-14 in extra time, where FC Dallas eventually scored the game-winner behind the efforts of Maxi Urruti –– another substitute.
Between those two and the team’s initial sub, Michael Barrios, each had a key pass and made an obvious difference in the match that helped FC Dallas claw back and control the second half and extra time, where they held possession for 57.5 percent of the time.
“Yeah I think it was a little bit of being a little bit more patient in the final third,” Ulloa said. “I think we were rushing things too much and maybe kicking the ball too much (in the first half) –– we needed to keep a little bit more possession –– but I'm glad we turned things around after that goal, especially getting the momentum in overtime.”
When a long game starts to wear you down, it helps to have arguably the league’s fastest wingers flanking towards goal, actively causing defensive nightmares. Despite playing the full 120 minutes, Fabian Castillo was continually looking for space in the back and when Barrios came on, he did the same.
Eventually, in the 64th minute, that speed came into effect when Castillo blew past two Rapids defenders, causing them to tragically collide into one another. Soon after, Castillo had the easy set-up to Mauro Diaz for the game-tying goal.
Ulloa knows with his team’s speed, if the defense does its job, so will the attack.
“We know that if we can keep a shutout and if we can keep a clean sheet and stop the other team from scoring in the back that we have a lot of speed –– Fabian, Michael, Tesho [Akindele] –– we know we can catch them on a counter and as long as defensively we're good, we can score at any moment.”
As FC Dallas moves on to the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals, where they’ll match up with Texas Derby foe Houston Dynamo, at the end of the day, Ulloa knows it’s about surviving and advancing.
“We knew we were going to get a goal sooner or later, we knew they were tired and we're glad and happy that we got away with the win.”