They say lightning never strikes twice. Don't tell that to FC Dallas.
For the second week in a row, an FC Dallas player found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and put the ball into his own net, handing the opponent a game-winning goal.
In Sunday's 1-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls, a 75th-minute cross by New York’s Jonny Steele looked as if it would harmlessly cross the goal mouth or get cleared by defenders Matt Hedges or Jair Benitez, both of home were at the far post. Instead, FCD midfielder Erick made an ill-advised feet-first slide at the ball directly in front of the goal and redirected it past bewildered Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez for the own goal.
“I mean, it was a nothing ball, it was a nothing ball,” Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman told reporters. “I think we had probably three guys on a straight that could’ve taken it, except for the guy that did in the middle and he put it right in. It’s unfortunate, the guys feel terrible.”
The loss left Dallas in 8th place in the West and five points out of the fifth and final playoff spot with five matches remaining. Captain David Ferreira knows that despite all the hard work put in at Red Bull Arena, the margin for error is now razor thin after earning zero points in their last two outings.
“I’m sad because we put together a great effort, we knew this was a very tough match but we came with every intention of getting three points,” Ferreira said through an interpreter. “Unfortunately we didn’t get them and now we have to focus on our next match and be aware that we can’t make mistakes to win and try to get a playoff spot.”
The club's stated goal at the beginning of September was to take 12 points from their last 8 games. They've bagged just three points so far, but with three of their five remaining matches coming at home, their target is still within reach. Benitez, whose giveaway in his own third started the sequence that led to the decisive own goal on Sunday, says the remaining home matches are all must-win.
“We must now face Columbus at home," he said. "That’s a tough match, [and] we have to win that game. If we want to make the playoffs, we have to win at home.”
Matt Barbour covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com.