If it wasn’t lightning storms and pouring rain washing out FC Dallas’ hopes of pulling out a result at BMO Field, it was a last-minute allergic reaction to one of their key players.
But somehow FCD survived a freakish trip to Toronto, riding a goal from newly acquired backup defender Jack Stewart to beat TFC, 1-0, on Thursday to stand alone atop Group C in the CONCACAF Champions League play, with six points through two matches.
It was the thankful ending to a bizarre 24 hours for Dallas, who saw a 1-0 halftime lead over Toronto wiped out by vicious weather on Wednesday night. CONCACAF elected to abandon the match and, by tournament rules, replay it in its entirety on Thursday morning.
As FC Dallas re-took BMO Field on Thursday for their rare weekday-morning match, starting center back Andrew Jacobson approached head coach Schellas Hyndman and informed him of allergic reaction he was having from some locker-room snacks.
“A.J. came up just as we are getting ready to walk out to the field for the game and said, ‘I’ve been into some cans over there and I didn’t realize that it had peanuts in there and I’m allergic to peanuts,’" Hyndman explained to MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. "His body was shutting down so we had to take him to the hospital.”
Jacobson remained at the hospital for the duration of the game and it was uncertain whether he would join the team on their flight back to Dallas and connection to Kansas City.
Stewart — less than a week after arriving on loan from NSC Minnesota Stars of the NASL — was also unaware of the situation that was developing right before kickoff as FC Dallas had only 10 players on the field.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Stewart admitted to MLSsoccer.com. “They just told me to go in there and I was like, 'This is going to be interesting.’”
That was only the beginning for FCD. Captain Daniel Hernandez uncharacteristically missed a 45th-minute penalty kick wide left and Dallas had to survive a late, desperate assault from the home side as a couple hundred fans watched on.
But just a minute after Hernandez’s miss, Stewart answered by flicking a near-post cross from Ugo Ihemelu past Reds goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
“A better script would have been you would have known you were starting,” said Stewart of his fairytale beginning with FC Dallas, “but at the end of the day, I did what I was brought in here to do, and that was to give cover to guys and then try to work my way into the lineup.”
Hyndman had come to expect the worst Thursday morning after all of the situations that went against FCD over the previous 12 hours. And while the penalty kick proved him right, Stewart’s performance was well timed.
“Just before we took the penalty kick, I said, ‘It’s going to be typical for us to miss it because so many things have been going wrong,’” Hyndman said. “It’s hard to score a goal when you are sitting on the bench and I thought [Stewart] did a really good job flicking that ball in.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached on Twitter: @robertmcasner