FRISCO – FC Dallas lit up Heineken Rivalry week Sunday night with a dominant 5-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo at Toyota Stadium—the club’s largest win of the season.
The four-goal victory pushed FC Dallas back above the playoff line and meant that El Capitán, the iconic cannon awarded to the annual winner of the Texas Derby, will remain at Toyota Stadium for at least another season.
But the headlines were stolen by Czech striker Zdeněk “The Cobra” Ondrášek who did his best to earn folk hero status on his first home start. Ondrášek scored two goals and added an assist in Dallas' largest ever Texas Derby victory, just one week after scoring his first goal for the club which sparked an improbably 3-goal comeback against the Montreal Impact.
Ondrášek's early FC Dallas career wasn't always as headline-grabbing, however.
FC Dallas signed the 29-year-old forward from Polish giants Wisła Kraków to fill the void of its departed top scorers from 2018, Roland Lamah and Maxi Urruti. But, for the first six months of his stay in Texas, Ondrášek failed to live up to that expectation. The Cobra struggled to break into the team, only making one start and nine sub appearances in MLS prior to August 17, scoring zero goals.
But when FC Dallas went 3-0 down to Montreal Impact last week, Ondrášek gave Dallas — and himself — a lifeline by scoring his first goal for the club after subbing in at halftime. His 59th-minute strike set the tone for a dramatic second half which earned FC Dallas a valuable point on the road.
“This is so important for all the young guys and everyone in this club to see that you shouldn’t give up until the last whistle,” Ondrášek said after that game. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 3-0, whatever. We have to fight until the end.”
Ondrášek’s inspirational performance in Montreal earned him the start a week later in the all-important Texas Derby. And he leapt at the opportunity, providing an assist for Dallas' second goal before scoring two of his own in front of a packed supporters' section.
Having been held off the scoresheet in his first 10 appearances for Dallas, Ondrášek has now directly contributed to four goals in two games.
“What can I say? Cobra, two goals,” head coach Luchi Gonzalez said in Sunday’s postgame conference. “That is a player that was not getting opportunities frequently at the beginning of the season, even midseason, but he always had respect for the team. He worked and adapted and he's earned the minutes he's been getting recently. He's taking advantage of this moment.”
Ondrášek allowed himself to enjoy Sunday's Texas Derby success, but reiterated the significance of the tight playoff race ahead of FC Dallas.
“We enjoy today, we [will] enjoy tomorrow, but from Tuesday we get ready for next week because every game is important.”