MIDLAND Forget about the fact that FC Dallas wasn’t playing its full-strength starting lineup.
Forget that the game was only an interleague friendly.
When Angel Zapata deflected a header past FC Dallas goalkeeper Dario Sala to hand the West Texas United Sockers a 2-1 victory over the MLS franchise, the Sockers landed a surprising blow and cemented their franchise’s level of play.
“The first disappointment is losing,” FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “But the result is a bigger disappointment because we expected to win.”
Playing with longtime starter Dario Sala in goal, FC Dallas had plenty of reason to expect a win. In two friendlies against the Sockers last season, FC Dallas came away with a 3-0 win in Frisco and a 2-0 win in Midland.
But West Texas United struck early this time.
Taking an early free kick in the fourth minute, midfielder Dominic Furness — a West Texas A&M junior who has spent time practicing with the Kansas City Wizards — bent his kick into the near post past Sala to give the Sockers a 1-0 lead.
Rather than responding with more pressure, the FC Dallas midfield never generated any energy in the first half, and West Texas United’s midfield dominated possession throughout the first 45 minutes.
”In the two games last year, they were on us right away,” Sockers defender Raul Franco said. “I don’t know if they just expected to beat us or weren’t ready — they didn’t have a lot of time to warm up — but they didn’t pick it up until the second half.”
FC Dallas only generated one solid chance in the first half, a header that West Texas United goalie Leif Craddock stopped with a leaping save.
But FC Dallas picked up the pace in the second half, and Craddock had to make a series of spectacular stops to keep the Sockers from giving up the lead.
At one point, Craddock made a diving save, but the ball bounced back to Marvin Chavez, who slammed his kick off the post, and then Craddock made two more saves off of his back.
“That was a little bit of instinct, and I got lucky a little bit,” Craddock said. “When that second shot went off the post, it was a great feeling.”
Craddock’s aggressive play backfired in the 73rd minute.
Coming out to challenge a pass to Ruben Luna, Craddock fouled him, and Milton Rodriguez slammed in a penalty kick to even the score.
The Sockers responded.
Taking a free kick only two minutes after the goal, Furness feathered a cross to a leaping Zapata, who deflected the ball just enough to evade Zapata.
“I wanted to put it on the back post so it had the best chance of going in,” Furness said. “And when he took the header, it deflected it just enough to throw off the goalie.”
Stunned by the quick response, FC Dallas couldn’t find an equalizer.
“We were putting the pedal to the metal, trying to get the win,” Hyndman said. “It was a bad time for us to give up a goal.”
And the perfect time for the Sockers to take one from an MLS squad.