If the mythological fountain of youth does indeed exist, it seems Blas Perez has found it.
Despite turning 34 just 24 hours before Saturday’s 3-1 win over Kansas City, the veteran striker has been all over the field for FC Dallas, leading the team – and all of MLS – with three goals in two games.
“He looks younger than everybody else,” FCD head coach Oscar Pareja said with a grin.
Although Pareja spoke in jest, it certainly looked like it on Saturday night.
The cagey veteran had a birthday performance to remember, while even leaving opportunities on the field. Perez fell just short of a hat trick, sending an uncontested header right into Luis Marin’s chest in the 60th minute and sending a bicycle kick off-target later in the game. At that point, Dallas already held a two-goal lead and Perez was just having fun.
“On the bicycle kick, I overheard Mauro [Diaz] asking for the ball. And I saw it and thought I could make it,” Perez said through a translator. “After the fact, I think it was a little bit selfish since Mauro was probably in a better position.”
Trick shots aside, Perez was all over the field all night. Although he was not credited with an assist on his first goal, it was Perez who alertly found Fabian Castillo following a throw-in to set up a series of passes that eventually led to his own crisp finish.
Pareja explained after the game that he heard Perez commenting to the rest of the team in practice this week about his rejuvenated spirit.
“He said ‘I feel younger and younger,” Pareja said. “And today he showed it the way he carried himself and the way he performed with such professionalism. It’s a good example for us.”
His consistency year in and year out for Dallas is beginning to show in the record books as well. With two goals on the night, Perez vaulted himself ahead of Jeff Cunningham for third place on the club’s all-time scoring list with 33 goals.
The Panama City native was honored to learn he was climbing into the FC Dallas record books.
“When I decided to come to the MLS, I decided to leave a mark,” Perez said. “Not only in the league, but with this team that opened their doors for me and gave me the opportunity to prove myself.”
After a journeyman career that has taken Perez to 15 clubs around the world over 17 years, he has finally found a home, and is reaping the benefits.
“I’m very proud to be part of the history of this team,” he said.