“In my opinion, we really did deserve this game. We were the much better team,” FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja said. “We should be proud because we played against one of the best teams in the league, and we did a fantastic job.”
The blow to Hedges came via friendly fire, after a ball was deflected high into the air in Dallas’ third. Hedges and Kellyn Acosta both leaped up to clear it, but rather than cleanly striking the ball, they banged their heads together.
Acosta bounced up after a few seconds. Hedges, on the other hand, required a new uniform, a head bandage, six stitches at halftime, and a second head bandage to gut through 85 minutes.
“That’s the captain for FC Dallas,” said Pareja, adding he never doubted that Hedges would tough it out. “Matty’s playing great this year. I think he’s taking his game to the next step. On that singular play, it shows what he’s growing into – a man on the field. He went back and fought through, and that’s a good example for our youngsters.”
“It shows his character," Acosta added. "Matt’s not going to go down without a fight. I know he had a big gash, but he was still heading the ball. He probably got hit in that same spot another 10 times. It shows his character that he’s going to give it his all until he can’t anymore. He gave everything he had. That’s our captain, and we believe in him.”
In part due to the steady leadership of their captain, FC Dallas has been accustomed to getting three points at home, notching wins in their first three games at Toyota Stadium this year.
In the last two, however, the club has settled for draws – something FC Dallas lament considering their stellar track record at home.
But Pareja understands that with MLS growing, sometimes taking a point at home isn’t so bad – even if he did feel his club was the better side.
“This league has made it, or is building, with many good teams and many players who are playing among us now that show it’ll never be easy,” Pareja said. “Getting one point sometimes is going to be a luxury, and probably this game is one of those. We won last week and got three points away, so we’re fine. We’re fighting there. We’re preparing this team to be champions, and all these lessons help us.”