FRISCO, Texas — Often criticized last season for a lack of production, Ricardo Villar was out to prove his doubters wrong on Sunday.
His mission was accomplished, as he scored the game-winning goal in FC Dallas’ 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls in the teams’ season opener on Sunday.
“Critics will always happen in soccer. Only the people that are actually on the field know what’s going on,” Villar said. “I gave everything I had to this team last year. I worked very hard to help us win. I just keep working hard and try to do the best for my team and not focus on the critics.”
Villar’s goal gave FC Dallas a 2-0 lead in the 61st minute and gave his club cushion to work with for the rest of the game. Villar received a through ball from forward Blas Pérez and was able to chip the ball over the head of New York goalkeeper Ryan Meara for the score.
“I had an opportunity before on a 50/50 ball from Brek [Shea], but the ball got behind me,” Villar said. “I had it in my mind that I had to get it back. Blas got the ball, and I made a run hoping I would get a piece of it. I was able to get a good touch on it and the result was a goal.”
This was his first MLS goal of his career, and Villar dedicates it to his hero, former Brazilian midfielder Socrates.
“I just thought about how this goal for my team not it being my first MLS goal,” Villar said. “This was a tribute to Socrates. He was my idol growing up. He played for Brazil in the World Cup in the '80s. He was the only Brazilian to set an example to never give up. I thank Socrates for that. He passed away last year, and it’s just a little bit of my culture.”
Villar’s first goal almost never happened. After suffering a concussion on Wednesday, he wasn’t cleared to play until Saturday.
Despite the head injury, Villar fought through the pain and didn’t disappoint.
“I got bells rang on Wednesday. I went through the whole cognitive tests. I was actually only cleared on Saturday,” Villar said. “Thank God I was able to play and score the goal.”
WATCH: Villar talks with MLSsoccer.com