FRISCO, Texas -- FC Dallas were down two goals to San Jose only 16 minutes into Saturday night's match, but they came back to earn a hard-fought 2-2 draw.
Literally, hard fought.
Three reds were shown in a span of five minutes late in the second half, but none was more surprising than Kenny Cooper's, which came barely a minute after he came into the match as a subsititute. For the typically even-keeled Cooper, it was the first straight red card of his career and it came as a result of his retaliation following a hard foul and apparent stomp by San Jose’s Victor Bernardez.
“As long as I’ve known Kenny, I’ve never seen him do that,” FC Dallas Coach Schellas Hyndman said after the match. “I’ve got to believe it’s a combination of getting kicked hard and probably frustrations.”
Cooper declined to talk to reporters after the match.
Bernardez and Cooper have recent history from the last time their teams played in late May. The two tangled for a ball out of bounds and landed hard between the benches. Cooper received a concussion on the play and while Bernardez wasn’t carded in the game, but later received a two-game suspension from the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Hyndman believes the previous incident probably helped trigger Cooper’s emotional response.
“That was Bernardez that threw him into the stands [in May]. I still at times think there’s an effect from that. It takes a long time to [get over]," Hyndman said. "We have Ugo Ihemelu who is sitting out the year from his concussion, so he’s a constant reminder to our players that this could happen to them.”
Tensions were already high on the field because just minutes earlier, Earthquakes substitute Justin Morrow was also shown a straight red for a late tackle on a breakaway down the right sideline by Dallas’ Ramon Nuňez. Rookie right back Kellyn Acosta immediately stepped in to stand up for his teammate.
“I thought that was a bad challenge on his part and I wasn’t going to have any of it,” Acosta said. “I just wanted to let him know that he should never do that again and that I have Ramon’s back.”
Michel, who scored the tying goal on a penalty kick in the 72nd minute, agreed that it was an extremely physical match.
“Definitely one of the games with the most intensity, then on top of that having gone down by two goals in 15 minutes and the team had to come from behind,” the Brazilian said through an interpreter. “We played physical, we played well, the team showed personality and in a week with three games, it was character that brought the team back to earning a point.”
Matt Barbour covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com.