What a difference three points can make.
In the span of eight minutes or so on Wednesday night, FC Dallas went from a team that was winless in almost three months and hadn’t beaten Chivas USA in two years to one that is tied for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Prospects for a victory looked grim after Jackson’s second yellow in the 81st minute left Dallas with only 10 men. But FCD coach Schellas Hyndman had no intention of playing for a draw even with the man disadvantage.
“I think it just comes down to the character of the players and determination of the players,” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com by phone from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. “They were determined to come away with three points. A lot of teams would have sat back and said, ‘We’re down a man, let’s get a point on the road and we’ll feel good about it.’
“I don’t think we’re in that position where we can get just a point. We have to fight for three points.”
The difference-maker on the night for FCD was Ramon Nuñez, who came on in the 82nd minute for Fabian Castillo and promptly assisted on the winning goal by David Ferreira (himself a second-half sub) four minutes later. Nuñez then put away the insurance goal in stoppage time on a beautifully curled shot that gave Chivas USA keeper Dan Kennedy no chance.
“I think that was the most productive he’s looked,” Hyndman said of Nuñez. “There’s things that we’ve still got to get him to do, but the thing that he likes to do is he likes to get forward, he likes to penetrate and he likes to shoot the ball. In this game, we needed him to do those things and it paid off making that sub.”
With the win, FC Dallas not only snap their winless streak and get right back into the playoff chase, they get a much needed boost of confidence heading into the weekend’s fixture with San Jose, a team they are battling for positioning in the Western Conference.
“The mood in the locker room was, everybody was smiling, everybody was like it was back to the old days, everybody’s happy with themselves,” said Hyndman. “They are playing for their families and they’re playing for the FC Dallas fans and everybody who loves FC Dallas and that was a monkey on their backs as well as on the coach’s back.
“Getting this win, we’re hoping that more and more positive things will keep coming to us.”