FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas were trailing the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 in the 72nd minute Saturday evening when referee Baldomero Toledo awarded FC Dallas a penalty kick, one that many observers expected captain David Ferreira or striker Blas Perez to take.
Instead, it was left fullback/defensive midfielder Michel who stepped up to the spot in a high-pressure situation and coolly converted to earn Dallas a 2-2 draw and an important point against the Earthquakes. And according to FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman, the free kick specialist will also be the first choice penalty-kick taker when he’s on the field.
“Michel has been working on PKs. He’s probably the [player] that’s been working on them the most out of everybody on the team,” Hyndman told reporters after the match. “We bring players in and we train on PKs under a lot of pressure. Out of all the things that we’ve done, right now Michel seems to be the one that’s our best PK taker.”
Kenny Cooper had attempted FC Dallas’ two previous penalty opportunities on the season, going one for two in those situations, and he was on the bench when the penalty was called. Michel said that unless he has already been subbed out of the match or does not start, he expects to be the one standing over the ball when it is on the spot from 12 yards out.
“This was the first time I was on the field when there was a penalty called in favor of the team,” Michel said through an interpreter. “Every week I take penalty shots, every week I practice penalty shots. This was just the first time I had the opportunity to contribute to the team by taking the PK.”
Rather than blasting the ball into one of the corners, Michel casually passed the ball into the left side of the net as Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch dived to the right. There was no film session that helped Michel make that decision. He boils down his success to pure confidence.
“What I do when I am trying to take a penalty is just try and wait as much as I can till the last minute to see where the goalkeeper is going to go," said Michel. "Then I just go to the opposite side.”
Matt Barbour covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com