What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
And so it was that our heroes of the day engaged in the most daring of escapes, finding themselves backed against the wall by the irritation of Blas Perez and the flank play of those stripy Texan villains. When it seemed like they simply had an answer for everything we did (that answer: Score a goal in response), we left it entirely late and let the captain for the night take over.
In the absence of our usual captain Kyle Beckerman, Nat Borchers (his right-hand man and the one some of our players rather fondly call Coach B) organized defensively without too much trouble — despite the two goals FC Dallas scored being rather flukey.
The first goal came as a result of a Kyle Reynish save that the linesman adjudged to have fully crossed the line, but no proper video footage has been shown to exist of the ball crossing the line. It was a fantastic, fantastic save, though a bit deep. However, blaming Reynish for our side playing a round of beach volleyball in the box seems a bit wide of the mark. If there were ever a proper shout for goal line technology, this was it — but that doesn't excuse the fairly slipshod defending which we conspired to engage in at that very moment. Perhaps it was a bit to do with unlucky bounces, too, and perhaps on another day, those high crosses wouldn't have just floated in the air and would have actually cleared further. That wind — it sure conspired against us (and FC Dallas) at some weird times.
The second goal was the result of a surprisingly unawares Kyle Reynish, who, despite having a shocker on the goal, was excellent through most of the night and battled against entirely too strong winds very well. But he knows he's got to do better when he's given chances. Goalkeeping is a tough job, and it's one that for many plays on their confidence that comes from a run of games. I can't blame Reynish, given these many factors, but he didn't have the best game in the Claret and Cobalt.
But despite conceding two goals and looking a bit rough around the edges in some ways, we ground out a win with a rather depleted squad. The drama was at times unbearable — and it started well before the goals even started to roll in. There was a slightly nasty incident early on when Blas Perez appeared to trod on the leg of a fallen Tony Beltran, after which some angry shouting from our left back ensued. This, I suppose, is rather understandable. Too often we see players step on players as if they didn't know they were there or are somehow entirely clumsy. It's tough to reconcile when those players are strikers with excellent awareness of their feet. I'm not saying it was purposeful, but I am saying I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
The drama continued when Saborio scored a fine headed goal from a cross by our Japanese right back. The cross was of the highest order, and the header was quite nice, too. It was but 15 minutes later when Dallas knocked one back on that controversial "did-it-cross?" moment. My heart sunk. All our hearts sunk. I rather wanted to hide, such was the despair.
But as usual, who came to the rescue but Alvaro Saborio once again. Only but a minute later did he come to our rescue, but it was the build-up player that made it work. The understanding Jonny Steele has developed with our players in the short time he's been at the club is a bit of a mystery to me. He seems to know where they are, and they seem to know where he is. Perhaps he's a good communicator on the pitch, or perhaps he's an excellent player in training, or perhaps it's just that he's clicked. Whatever it is, he's been involved in plenty of big plays this season, and there's got to be a reason for it.
Of course, Blas Perez conspired again to take the wind out of our sails and leave us stranded in the Great Salt Lake, which would not be as bad as being stranded in the ocean, but certainly not fun nor safe. His goal, played in by Kyle Reynish, who seemed caught between two minds, fell in the 85th minute like one of those fancy miniature courtroom hammers. I mean, could you even put a nail into a board with those? I think not. At any rate, heads dropped in the crowd again — but not on the pitch. There was nothing to be seen that looked like anyone saying, "Well, let's play for a draw, folks. A draw shall be good enough for today." None of that. Perhaps it was the personnel — though I can't think of a player in our squad that would be particularly happy with a draw.
In fact, after that goal, we took an interesting shape. Nat Borchers was some sort of sweeper, but was largely around the midfield line. Jamison Olave and Yordany Alvarez sat in front of him (though not much sitting was done, such was their task), while Tanaka and Beltran burst up the flanks. The three midfielders in front of Alvarez — Steele, Grabavoy, and Johnson — looked to pick up every ball that fell their way. In front of them still was Fabian Espdinola, who was largely on the left, and Alvaro Saborio, who plowed through the center.
And who would you expect to win it but our captain for the evening? Nat Borchers, Nat Borchers, Nat Borchers. That beautiful white rhinoceros of a man. And how would you expect him to score? A fine header across the face of goal? A powered header that just misses the keeper? That was the thing, though. It wasn't any of that. What we saw was a true striker's effort, a lovely curled ball into the top right corner of the net, a blast that will ring through the ages. That —that! — goal stands out above the fray.
Must we keep doing this to ourselves, though? Our ability to rescue a match is outstanding, but I'd rather we didn't have to rescue so many matches. That'll come with time, I suppose. Until then, we'll continue to grind out these wins. One thing it does speak to: Our mentality is excellent. When we go down a goal, we perk right back up and continue fighting for three points. Once again, that attitude has paid off.