FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas had all their big guns together in attack for the first time this season on Saturday night, but it was an unlikely goal from a just-as-unlikely midseason acquisition that kept the club's playoff hunt alive.
Julian de Guzman, a player unceremoniously shipped out by Toronto FC to FC Dallas in mid-July, reminded everyone why he was signed as a Designated Player, breaking Vancouver's hearts on a 25-yard volley with seconds left in stoppage time on Saturday night to move his club within a point of the Whitecaps for the fifth and final playoff spot in the West.
“I was in the position to pick up whatever comes out and I was able to have enough time to put it on my chest and get a left-footed shot in,” de Guzman told reporters after the match. “Once I saw it hit the back of the net, dreams came true.”
Make that a dream week for de Guzman. He singlehandedly kept FC Dallas in the thick of the playoff hunt just days after his former side, Toronto FC, was officially eliminated from playoff contention in the East.
Saturday night's winner was doubly sweet for the Canadian international midfielder, who was offloaded to Dallas in mid-July after 65 games with Toronto FC.
“I’ll never forget the words of [current TFC manager] Paul Mariner saying that he wants to make sure he’ll send me to a last-place team and let me burn in the heat,” a candid de Guzman said. “It worked out for myself, getting the last laugh, the karma of things. Right now who’s the last place team in the league and who’s battling for the playoffs?”
Indeed the playoff dream is remarkably still alive for an FC Dallas team that suffered through a franchise-record 13-game winless streak through the first half of the 2012 season. Saturday night’s match with Vancouver was looking like a microcosm of that streak with Dallas spurning chance after chance as time wound down. That only made the final shot of the game that much sweeter.
“It’s definitely one of the biggest highlights in my career and it would mean a lot more if we can clinch that playoff spot,” de Guzman said. “The objective in this game was to get three points. We knew how important this was and I think the guys fought, battled, suffered and in the end we came up with what we deserved.