SAN JOSE, Calif. — There were no shortage of talking points from Avaya Stadium after a wild 2-2 draw between FC Dallas and the host San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. And at the center of it all was FC Dallas forward Francis Atuahene and San Jose goalkeeper Daniel Vega.
Atuahene leveled in the second half just 42 seconds into his MLS debut, while Vega victimized himself with a remarkable own goal.
"It's been so long since I actually got to play like this due to a lot of injuries," Atuahene, the 23-year-old Ghanian, told MLSSoccer.com on his birthday. "So when I score the goal, I was pointing at the back of my jersey just to let people remember the name.
"I was just excited," he added. "It was the moment where I was like, 'Yeah, just remember I'm here.' But overall, I'm just excited that we were able to get a point out of here.”’
Atuahene admits he was unaware that he was going to make his debut until the moment coach Luchi Gonzalez looked at him and called his name.
"Francis earned the opportunity because Francis is Francis," Gonzalez said. "He showed a lot of courage and excitement to take the player on and cut inside. If we don't shoot, we don't score. He took that opportunity very well, and I'm very happy for him."
It wasn't all fun and smiles, though, especially not for Vega, who gave FC Dallas an early lead after his costly mistake centimeters from the goal.
"The next time, play out from the back again," said Matias Almeyda on Vega's blunder. "I was just telling the players that, because that's like life, at least for those of us who believe in religion. Whoever is free of sins throws the first rock, and then nobody would be left. It's the same way here.
"Whoever is free of mistakes, step on the field and play by yourself. Not even we would step on. It's part of the game, it's part of the risk. The important thing is as a group, we support everyone's mistakes. That's why to me unity is fundamental, in both good moments and bad moments."
Almeyda invokes the Biblical reference of John 8:7 regarding Vega’s howler: “whoever is free of sins throws the first rock, and then nobody would be left...whoever is free of mistakes, step on the field and play by yourself. Not even we would step on. #Quakes74 pic.twitter.com/VCs7oAPMjU— JMoore Quakes (@JmooreQuakes) June 8, 2019
Saturday was eventful — a day neither Francis nor Vega will forget. But with the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup around the corner, both teams are set for a quick turnaround, a second opportunity to do the same or correct the imperfections.
"Disappointed in giving up the lead, but at the same time, we were down and we had to respond," said Gonzalez. "[This] is something to grow on. This is a hard place to play, but we will move forward. We have to be ready for the next game."