After years of league-wide shortcomings to collect three points in Mexico, all it took was one attempt for FC Dallas to halt the league winless streak south of the border.
Wednesday night at Estadio Olímpico Universitario in Mexico City, FC Dallas — in their first CONCACAF Champions League appearance — defeated Mexican kings Pumas UNAM 1-0 to end the 24-game MLS winless streak in Mexico and shed the ghosts of years past.
“We are the first [MLS side] to beat a good Mexican team in Mexico,” stated head coach Schellas Hyndman in his postgame press conference. “I hope that more MLS teams will have the same courage to play good soccer and I hope that we can continue to find success here.”
In the past 24 attempts throughout Mexico, only three MLS teams had tied their opponent while the rest had fallen. However, on a wet summer night in the Mexican capital, history changed just past the hour mark on the play clock.
In the 65th minute, a hard-working Marvin Chávez collected the rebound off a Jair Benítez long-distance blast that bounced off the right post and placed his ensuing shot past out-of-place Pumas goalkeeper Odin Patiño.
Chávez — who pressured the Pumas defense throughout the night — credited the unity of his teammates for the landmark victory.
“I am very happy for all of my teammates,” the Honduran international said. “The most important thing of the group tonight was the attitude of the group, and we hope to continue working in the same manner.”
Defensively, FC Dallas goalkeeper and MLS legend Kevin Hartman saved the day, stopping three shots, perhaps none more important than the tone-setting block on an 18-yard attempt in the game’s opening moments.
The 2010 MLS Coach of the Year Hyndman hopes that Wednesday’s proclamation will open the gate for future MLS success against Mexican teams in their country.
“I’ll tell you that the first man who broke the four-minute mile was a man named Roger Bannister,” said Hyndman in relation to the famous runner’s world record. “The next week, another six people broke the four-minute mile because they believed in it.”
FC Dallas’ three points didn’t come without sacrifice. Chávez & Co. fought high altitude and wet weather to fend off the 2011 Mexican Apertura champions.
“In the opening minutes, the altitude affected us, but we knew about that,” Chávez admitted. “I think that the attitude of the group tonight helped us get a good result.”
Added Hyndman: “I think we just tired them a little bit with our ability to withstand their pressure and it took an outstanding goal for us to beat a very good team tonight.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached on Twitter: @robertmcasner