FRISCO, Texas — When FC Dallas won 3-1 at Kansas City on Saturday, the victory did not just push the club closer to the 2010 MLS Playoffs; it also marked a first for the club’s longest-tenured player, Dario Sala, who picked up his first win of 2010.
Sala had appeared in six games before that – starting five – and had a 0-1-5 record heading into Saturday’s match with the Wizards. Under nearly constant pressure in the second half, Sala made six saves and allowed just one goal as FCD recorded their first win in three tries at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Getting his first win remained a topic of conversation for the seasoned ‘keeper on Monday.
“I had one season where I won 14 [in 2006]. I hadn’t had one this year,” Sala said. “Hopefully the victories will continue and we can get the Supporters Shield. We are closer than ever.”
The veteran had started four of FCD’s first five games in 2010. But after a gaffe led to a New England goal on May 1 at Gillette Stadium in a game FCD likely would have won otherwise, Hyndman sent him to the bench in favor of Kevin Hartman.
Hartman started the next 19 games before straining his right MCL against New York on September 16. Sala stepped right in and made some big stops as FCD and the Red Bulls finished in a 2-2 draw.
Being able to go with another veteran in a pinch has been crucial for head coach Schellas Hyndman. Hyndman was also happy to see Sala, who has been with FCD since 2005, get his first win of 2010.
“He started off the year, slipped a little bit and Kevin [Hartman] has come in and done a fantastic job,” the FCD manager said. “One of the positive things that we keep saying to Dario and Kevin both is we have two first-team ‘keepers here. On this team, we have two first-team ‘keepers and we have confidence in both of them.”
“It was rainy, muddy and my hands responded very well,” Sala said. “The first two or three shots I had, I felt really secure with my hands. In the second half, I didn’t want to give up any rebounds because there was a lot of traffic in front of the net. I was under a lot of pressure with a lot of traffic and a lot of crosses.”
With Hartman likely remaining on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Sala figures to get a third straight start between the posts on Saturday when Chicago visits Frisco. A win by FCD will clinch their first playoff spot since 2007.
“Talking to Kevin today [Monday], the last thing we want to do is put him out there at 70 percent,” Hyndman said. “And then if he fails, it leaves bad memories for everyone. He’ll know when he’s ready to take this serious.”
Along with Dax McCarty, Sala is one of two players remaining from the playoff team that was coached by Steve Morrow.