To be sure, his team pulled out a dramatic victory, but New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol said his side's 3-2 win against FC Dallas on Saturday night was one of the highlights of the first half of the year.
"That was as good of a game as you'll see all season," said Nicol. Taylor Twellman was the hat trick hero, and two of his strikes in the last three minutes of the game propelled the Revs to an improbable victory.
Nicol heaped praise on the visitors, who looked the best side for most of the encounter. The Revs started and ended the first half well and finished strongly, but FC Dallas looked to have sealed the points with a strong performance in between with goals from Arturo Alvarez and Ronnie O'Brien.
"FC Dallas is a good side. Obviously, O'Brien and [Carlos] Ruiz are very important to them," Nicol said.
Nicol was aided before the match with the return of Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan. U.S. national team head coach Bruce Arena gave the pair permission to play for their club side after they did not feature for the United States in their 3-1 victory against Jamaica earlier in the day. Noonan had the assist on the opener, while Dempsey's header created the equalizer.
Goalkeeper Matt Reis, also with the U.S. squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, made crucial saves at key times to keep the match at 2-1, most notably from a point-blank header from Chris Gbandi in the 55th minute.
"Reis had to make more saves than we would like, but he was great," said Nicol. "It's been tough for him coming back and forth [from the U.S. national team]."
Dempsey was pleased that his side managed to pull out the result at the death.
"It's crazy," said Dempsey. "That's soccer. We were battling. We came out well, but struggled a bit. At home, we want them to know that it will be difficult to come in here and beat us."
Nicol admits that his side needs improvement in the final third, but that he was pleased with the effort against FC Dallas.
"We can still be better in the final third, but we played some good football tonight," said Nicol.
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.