Rookie Matt Hedges nets first career goal
Bridgeview, Ill. (Wednesday, May 23) – FC Dallas dropped a 2-1 decision to the Chicago Fire Wednesday night at Toyota Park.
The Fire and FC Dallas seemed destined to end the first half scoreless, thanks to two saves from veteran goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, but rookie center back Matt Hedges broke up the deadlock with his first professional goal in the 41st minute of play. The goal came off a corner kick that was earned by some nice interplay between Jackson and Andrew Jacobson.
After Jacobson had his subsequent shot blocked out of play and over the end line, Homegrown player Bryan Leyva lobbed the corner kick high to the back post. There, Blas Perez beat his marker and headed a strong shot back towards the left post. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson came up with a spectacular save to deny Perez of his fifth goal of the season, but the ball fell directly to Hedges, who finished off the chance with a short header.
Chicago returned fire just four minutes later when Marco Pappa broke free of his defender and slotted a ball in to Grazzini in the center of the pitch. Grazzini took a touch towards the top of the area before bending a perfectly placed shot into the upper corner of the net to level the score 1-1 in the 45th minute.
FC Dallas made two changes at the half, bringing on Carlos Rodriguez for George John and Bruno Guarda for James Marcelin. Guarda immediately impacted the game, earning Dallas a penalty kick just six minutes into the second half after collecting a loose ball and dribbling into the area. Guarda was taken down in the area by a Fire defender, prompting referee Hilario Grajeda to point to the spot. Perez opted to take the kick, firing a low strike to Johnson’s right side, but once again the Fire goalkeeper came up with a save, knocking the shot over the end line for a corner kick.
The Fire earned a penalty kick of its own in the 63rd minute after Pappa went to ground in the area after colliding with Dallas’ Rodriguez and Zach Loyd. Grazzini stepped to the spot to take the kick, knocking a low shot towards the center of the goal. Hartman was there, waiting to slap the shot away, but unfortunately for Dallas, Pappa was the first to the loose ball. He hammered a shot into the empty net from six-yards out to give Chicago the 2-1 lead.
Dallas pressed for an equalizer for the remainder of the match. Its best opportunity to find the back of the net came in the 90th minute when a cross played into the area by Jair Benitez was deflected to Perez at the far post. Perez struck a first-touch volley that was partially blocked by a Fire defender, but the ricochet still came within inches of catching the back post before going out for a corner kick.
DAL – Matt Hedges 41
CHI – Sebastian Grazzini (Marco Pappa) 45
CHI – Marco Pappa 63
FC Dallas – Chris Seitz, Jair Benitez, Matt Hedges, George John (Carlos Rodriguez 46), Zach Loyd, Bryan Leyva (Scott Sealy 72), James Marcelin (Bruno Guarda 46), Daniel Hernandez, Andrew Jacobson Jackson, Blas Perez.
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Hartman, Victor Ulloa, Jonathan Top, Moises Hernandez.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Blas Perez 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Blas Perez 2); FOULS: 15 (Andrew Jacobson, Zach Loyd 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Carlos Rodriguez, Andrew Jacobson 1); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Bryan Leyva 4); SAVES: 4 (Kevin Hartman 4).
Chicago Fire – Sean Johnson, Dan Gargan, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares, Patrick Nyarko, Rafael Robayo, Sebastian Grazzini (Pavel Pardo 76), Logan Pause, Marco Pappa (Corben Bone 89), Dominic Oduro (Orr Barouch 59).
Substitutes Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Hunter Jumper, Danil Paladini, Federico Puppo.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Sebastian Grazzini 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Sebastian Grazzini 4); FOULS: 21 (Marco Pappa 4); OFFSIDES: 4 (Dominic Oduro 3); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Marco Pappa 2); SAVES: 4 (Sean Johnson 4).
DAL – George John (caution) 30
CHI – Dan Gargan (caution) 36
CHI – Marco Pappa (caution) 64
CHI – Orr Barouch (caution) 69
CHI – Rafael Robayo (caution) 90
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee’s Assistants: Peter Balciunas, Kevin Klinger
4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Sunny, 78 degrees
FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman
On the team’s performance in the first half:
“I thought we seemed to have a bit more energy than they did, I know they played on Sunday, we played on Saturday and the trip, and playing on turf wears you down, so we wanted to come out really high and press and force their defense to make mistakes. I thought we were really doing some good things. I’m surprised it took us so long to score as it did because we were putting a lot of pressure on Anibaba and Berry in the back. But we did get a goal, we are disappointed we gave a goal up in the way we gave it up, and then of course the penalty kick, and then coming back and giving up a penalty kick. I really think the play was offside but it seems like that’s the kind of way the season has been going for us. The critical points of time, the ball’s not bouncing right and we’re not getting it done in critical times where we are making a mistake.”
On playing high pressure on defenders:
“We’re asking so much of our guys. We have nine injuries. We have four academy guys that are on the trip. We’re asking guys to help us with the one thing that they can do, and they have been doing, which is working. Our idea was to put pressure on the defense. We watched three games from Chicago, and we feel they do a great job defending, but they may not be as creative with the ball coming down the back. And without time and space, people have a tendency to make a mistake.”
On the sense of urgency or frustration that has set in to the team:
“Completely. Completely. On both levels. The urgency, you know, we played three more games than Chicago and they have more points than us. So that’s frustrating. And the other thing is the frustration. I think this is a game we could have won. But I can say this about a few of our games. I don’t know if we’re just having players getting tired, this is our third series of three games in a week, [the Fire] will feel it when they go to Columbus. You don’t get a chance to recover, and then when you get injuries, you don’t get a chance to treat things to recover. I thought the key for us was losing George John at halftime with a potential concussion. We wanted to keep it safe. That was his injury. So we’re hoping that he’ll be okay to jump back in to the game this weekend.”
On the second substitution at halftime with Guarda:
“That was a tactical substitution. We felt like we needed just a little more offensive play and Bruno Guarda came in and he’s the one that drew the penalty kick. I think tactically and with decision making we were pretty good, but I just think that there were key moments in the game where we didn’t get it done.”
On regrouping before the next match against Salt Lake:
“I’ll say this about our guys. I’m frustrated, I think the word we all use and we used it at halftime and at the end of the game, we should be pissed. Because we are giving everything we have, we’re in the game and we can’t overcome our own mistakes so we should be pissed. But we want to be and continue to be fighters. We want to show up and play good soccer. We want to put everything out there and not be victims where everything is going against us. So a lot of it is just mentality. Our injured players will come back and when they come back, we’ll be better.”
FC Dallas Defender Matt Hedges
On the importance of his goal:
“I think it was an important goal for us because we’ve been playing well all half and I think it should boost our confidence but in the end we gave up a goal a couple minutes later so it’s kind of disappointing. But the first goal, I was excited but it just wasn’t enough.”
On the team’s sense of urgency:
“Absolutely, we need to get points any way we can, a win, a tie, whatever. We have to keep working hard. We’ve been playing well but it’s not going our way. We have to start getting more points-we haven’t gotten too many points in the last seven or eight games.”
On building on the team’s play from the first half:
“We’ve had a lot of injuries and a lot of guys who don’t normally play are getting a lot of minutes so I think they’re getting good, quality experience. When we get the [starters] back, they’ll be able to help us a little more.
FC Dallas Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman
On the match:
“Obviously we are disappointed. We had our opportunity to go up in the second half. Sean Johnson made a great save on Perez’s penalty kick. It’s really disappointing. We have a game on Saturday we need to get ready for now. We have to really grab each other around the shoulders and give each other a hug and say that we have the guys and the talent and the opportunity against a really good Salt Lake team that we have a quick turn around again. We can’t really hang our heads. We have to deal with it like men and move on with it. Practices have been good and we’re just in the position now that we’re going to need someone to work a little harder and put their head in one of those 50/50 balls and maybe get a goal for us. And that might be something that will change the tide for us. I thought tonight when we had the penalty kick opportunity, I thought this is it, this is our opportunity and then Sean Johnson came up with a great save, so hats off to him.”
On the team’s performance in the first half:
“I was really content with it. I thought we didn’t give up too many opportunities, but you can’t give Grazzini a free kick from the 19 yard line. He’s just too good of a player. Maybe we were a little naïve on that. We have some new guys on the park. Zach [Loyd] comes in and plays inside and plays in the center and I don’t think Zach’s played in the center for a while. Matt’s [Hedges] just out of college, I think he’s performed very admirably. But unfortunately I think there was a lesson there maybe tonight that we can take something from this game and hopefully add it to one of the experiences of 2012 and it’ll make us a better team.”
Frank Klopas – Chicago Fire Head Coach
Comments on the match…
“Obviously just a great win for our club. I thought it was important for us being at home and coming out with a lot of energy from the beginning. We pressed higher up the field instead of waiting and going a goal down, and then starting to play. I felt that in the beginning we were a little bit flat and tired, and Dallas did a good job of really stepping high and pressing us. I thought that they were the bigger team and winning most balls. We gave up that goal, but we had a good response from the group. It’s just a huge win. We scored from behind again which shows a lot of character for the group. It’s all about the group and the team. It was a great performance and we scored the two goals and then created some more opportunities to put the game away. In the last five minutes, you have to say a couple prayers. It was just a great win for us and now we have to move on to the next match.”
On the goal by Grazzini…
“We gave up that goal in the 41st minute of the game, which is never a good time to give up the goal before going into the locker room. Sebastián scored a fantastic goal-a world class goal. Those are the type of goals that he can score with his ability. I felt that the group was positive and that the goal lifted us going into halftime. We talked more about strategy at the half and they came out with good energy and pushed hard. Sometimes it is difficult with the road trips…we came back from the trip to Portland and we had a great response from the group tonight.”
On the tendency to give up goals and having to battle back…
“I don’t know if it is a tendency. We talked about about playing from the beginning until the end and being more consistent. I was worried to see how we would start off because of the short week. It took us a little bit of time, but their goal came from nothing. From set pieces we need to get better. The positive thing is that we never gave up. The trend in this league is that the team that gives up the first goal normally does not win. I’m proud of the guys because they believe in themselves.”
On scoring from set pieces and the corner kick…
“I think it helped when they went with a smaller group in the second half. George John came off with an injury, then James Marcelin came off. Then we felt pretty good with the set pieces. I don’t think that we lost one aerial battle. The key was the second balls because we were getting a little bit stretched. It’s an area that we have to keep working on.”
On Sean Johnson stopping the penalty…
“It was huge for a morale standpoint and also for him. After that save, you saw a different Sean with more confidence and command in his box. It was also important in giving the whole team new energy. It was an important moment in the game.”
On playing at Columbus on Saturday…
“It’s great because last year it was my first win as interim coach and it was really something special because normally before the games I don’t go outside the locker rooms…I’m superstitious at times and do the same routine. I knew that when they came in from the warm ups that it was great because they came back and were in awe to see the amount of fans that we had there. There was a positive feeling in the room. There has been some special players and special teams at this club. I believe that then and now. It is time to write our own history and be remembered forever, like the team in ’98. That’s what it is all about. It was a great win and it was great to see so many of our fans there. It’s a difficult match-its a very good team, it’s a rivalry. We’re looking forward to it. We need to assess everyone tomorrow and if we need to make some adjustments, we will. Now we have a couple days and not that long of a trip. We look forward to the match.”
Sean Johnson, Chicago Fire goalkeeper
On his PK save:
“Most importantly the save was big for the team at that point in the game to help turn things around. There was a spell there where they were putting a lot of pressure on us – they got the ball into a deep spot and we gave up the foul, which was unfortunate. We needed that stop to keep sp in the game – it’s all about making crucial saves in the game when we need them. “
On the result:
“It was a team effort tonight and we were able to put one back on the other end of the field and come away with three points.”
On his confidence after the PK save:
“It’s always good to save a big save in the game like that to help turn things around and get the team going a bit. The second half was definitely better for me personally.”
On seeing the ball on the PK save:
“I was just trying to read it and get a good jump, and once the ball was out safely then you can regroup as a team and get things back in order and organized for the next play.”
Marco Pappa, Chicago Fire midfielder
On the slow start:
“After the first half when we came into the locker room we talked about how we needed to push ourselves more in the game. We knew we had to give a better effort in the second half of the game. We had some extra motivation after Sean’s [Johnson] penalty kick save.”
On his goal:
“I always said that before the ball goes into the net that I need to find the ball and stay with it. I made the sprint and the ball came to me, and it resulted in three points for the team so I’m happy with that. The best thing for me is that if I score the winner, everybody is a winner in the locker room, it’s good to get three points. “
Chicago’s Sebastian Grazzini:
On the result:
“It was definitely difficult today because they were definitely crowding the midfield. It seemed like they were playing with three defensive midfielders and it was difficult to break through, but we were able to create some space and score in a timely manner. It was definitely a wonderful victory to have here at home. “
On his goal:
“I thought it worked out really well. I’ve been connecting a lot more with Marco [Pappa] and Rafa [Robayo] a lot and it was an excellent wall for me to place it over and put it in. I’m just happy that it came at a good time to help tie the match.”