Before he scored the game-winner for FC Dallas in Saturday night's 1-0 win over Houston at Pizza Hut Park, FCD midfielder Arturo Alvarez hadn't scored since the opening match of the year, over five months ago.
But the Houston native's second goal of 2006 couldn't have come at a better time as he put one into the net in the 86th minute, a tally which proved to be the margin of victory in FCD's first-ever win over their in-state rival.
FCD head coach Colin Clarke was clearly happy for his fourth-year midfielder.
"I'm very pleased for him," Clarke said. "I thought he took it (the opportunity) well. I spoke to him during the week about we talked about simplifying things. I told him he was a wide left player and needed to get the ball down, run at people and take people on. I told him he had great pace and had much more ability than anyone in the locker room. He's still a young kid and is still learning."
Before Saturday, Alvarez's last goal had come in the season opener on April 1 against the Chicago Fire at Pizza Hut Park. He scored his side's first goal of the 2006 campaign in the 31st minute off a feed from Carlos "Fish" Ruiz, a tally which tied the game at 1.
Then, on July 15 at Chicago, Alvarez got his lone assist of the season, but it was a timely helper to say the least. He sent a cross into the Fire box which was met by Kenny Cooper and the first-year FCD forward headed it into the net in what proved to be the deciding blow in a 3-2 win by the Hoops that enabled them to claim the Brimstone Cup for the second straight year.
Alvarez's second tally of the year came after a perfectly-placed feed from second-year forward Abe Thompson, which Alvarez took and headed up the left side of the pitch. He was able to get inside of Dynamo defender Adrian Serioux, saw an opening at the far post and slotted the ball home to make it 1-0.
"It was special just because it feels good to score and help the team out," Alvarez said. "Knowing it's Houston, it feels a little weird. That's my job and I have to do what I have to do. It felt good."
But Alvarez wouldn't call it the most memorable score of his MLS career.
"I think there are many more great things to come," he said. "Every goal that I have scored so far in MLS is important to me. It's just another goal but not my best one yet."
One teammate who was very happy for Alvarez was All-Star midfielder Richard Mulrooney. The two were teammates in San Jose in 2003 and 2004 before coming to FCD in a January 2005 trade for current Houston midfielder Brad Davis.
"I'm happy for him," Mulrooney said. "He's had a lot of plays this year where he's gotten to the end line and hasn't been able to finish it off."
The 2006 season has been eventful for Alvarez. He started the first three games before a sprained ankle in the first half of an April 15 match at Colorado forced him to leave the pitch.
His replacement against the Rapids, Ramon Nunez, started seven of the next eight games on the left side for FCD before suffering a sprained ankle of his own in a 2-1 loss to Columbus on June 4 in Frisco. Ironically enough, Nunez's replacement was none other than Alvarez.
Since then, he has started three games while seeing considerable action as a second-half substitute. Alvarez also saw time with the FCD reserves, leading them with three goals.
Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.