FRISCO, Texas – Mauro Díaz set up a goal and delivered one of his own to make Oscar Pareja's homecoming a happy one as FC Dallas held off the Montreal Impact 3-2 in front of 18,011 fans at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night.
Díaz punctuated the victory with a gorgeous free kick into the corner past Troy Perkins two minutes out of halftime to give FCD their third straight opening-day victory. The Young Designated Player also drew a penalty in the 23rd minute that Blas Pérez converted to put the hosts in front for good.
The free kick – and eventual game winner – was awarded when Montreal midfielder Hernán Bernadello handled the ball while attempting a clear just outside his area.
In the 23rd minute, Díaz drew a penalty when he drove through the Montreal defense and into the right side of the area and drew contact with Jeb Brovsky. Replacement referee Edvin Jurisevic ruled the bump was enough to warrant a whistle, and pointed to the spot. Blas Perez stepped up and drilled his attempt into the roof of the net to give FCD a lead they didn't relinquish.
In the early going, it looked like Montreal had the upper hand as they were on the attack out of the gates and took advantage of a disorganized FCD backline. They scored just 10 minutes in when when right winger Justin Mapp beat both Jair Benítez and Moises Hernandez down the right side and crossed a ball across the goalmouth to a waiting Sanna Nyassi, who easily converted past Chris Seitz. But the advantage was short lived.
Six minutes later, Benítez took the ball deep into Montreal's half down the left sideline and sent a cross to Je-Vaughn Watson just outside the area. The Jamaican controlled the ball and, with a third touch, sent it forward into the box to Pérez, who shouldered it into the path of winger Fabián Castillo. The young Colombian picked his spot at the far post and calmly finished past Perkins to even the match at 1-1.
Then Díaz delivered the eventual game-winner. Just a minute out of the break, Montreal midfielder Hernán Bernadello was whistled for a hand ball just outside the top of the area, and Díaz's curler sent Toyota Stadium into celebration.
Andrew Wenger pulled Montreal back to within a goal in the 65th minute as FC Dallas were caught disorganized following the exit of injured Hendry Thomas. Before Michel could enter as a substitute, Felipe sent in an early looping ball that Wenger easily headed past Seitz to cut Dallas’ lead to 3-2.
Montreal were without star striker Marco Di Vaio and midfielder Andrés Romero (as well as defender Nelson Rivas), who were ineligble after receiving red cards in their Knockout Round loss at Houston in last fall's MLS Cup playoffs.
FC Dallas next travels to Sporting Kansas City to take on the defending MLS Cup Champions on March 15, while Montreal will enjoy a week of training in Dallas before traveling south to face the Houston Dynamo that same evening.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Mauro Díaz (DAL)||If the kid has inherited the keys, this will be one sweet ride. Masterful evening from the youngster.|
|2||Fabián Castillo (DAL)||Winger looked rejuvenated, with repeated surges up the left side of Impact's soft backline.|
|3||Justin Mapp (MTL)||Some early heroics from the veteran winger, who was at times the only source of Impact offense.|