Attention good people of 3rdDegree.net, I come bearing good news from Dallas Sidekicks Land.
The Kicks are good again.
With 14 of 24 matches in the books, the Dallas Sidekicks are – somehow – sitting on a .500 record with 20 points in the standings. After a disastrous 3-game road trip where Dallas lost all 3, the Kicks returned home to kick off February with a pair of statement wins.
On Saturday, February 5, the Sidekicks began their February home series, hosting the Harrisburg Heat for the lone match between the two this season. Harrisburg entered having recently found their footing, winning 2 of 3 at home, while the two teams hadn’t played each other since the 2013-14 season.
Against an on-form and unfamiliar foe, Dallas opened strong, with goals from Julio Varela and Rio Ramirez giving Dallas a 2-1 lead after the 1st quarter. Harrisburg’s Michael Cunningham brought the Heat level in the 2nd, and a power-play goal from Luis Brambila gave Harrisburg the lead into halftime.
Dallas rallied in the 3rd quarter with two goals from Varela giving the Sidekicks back the lead. Jamie Lovegrove added one of his own late in the 4th quarter, before drawing and burying a penalty kick to grow the lead to 6-3. Despite conceding in the dying seconds, Dallas held on to win by 2.
With the win, Dallas improved to 6-7, but more importantly, interim head coach Ricardinho Cavalcante extended his record as head coach to 6-4. That was good enough for the front office to drop the interim, naming Ricardinho the team’s permanent coach moving forward.
The next week, Dallas hosted the 10-1 Florida Tropics for a rematch after a disastrous 2-game road series in January. Dallas lost both – by an absurd 25-10 aggregate score line. Looking for revenge, the Sidekicks came out swinging, with Luiz Morales and Erik Macias scoring to take a 2-0 lead in the 1st. Florida quickly rallied, scoring twice in the 1st and opening the 2nd with another to take the lead for themselves. Just a minute later, Lovegrove found Cameron Brown for the power-play equalizer, and Morales got his second shortly afterward to retake the lead.
As the frantic 2nd quarter continued, Florida got an equalizer again, before once again, the Sidekicks retook the lead with a late goal from Bradlee Baladez. Entering the 2nd half with a 1-goal lead, the two sides dueled through a chippy, aggressive, and yet scoreless 3rd quarter. In the final frame, Morales opened the scoring to complete his hat trick, while Dallas held Florida to just 2 shots. Unfortunately, both shots made it past Gamboa, bringing the Tropics level and sending the game to overtime.
In their first overtime frame of the season, Dallas held strong defensively and made the most of dangerous free kicks, but much like the 3rd quarter, neither side could break through, sending the game to a shootout.
Dallas won the toss and shot first, with Luiz Morales leading off for Dallas. Morales chipped the ball over a charging Brett Petricek for one. Gamboa then parried the shot from Florida’s Victor Parreiras. 1-0.
In the 2nd round, Lovegrove’s shot was saved, while Gamboa saved the shot from Ricardo Carvalho. Still 1-0.
Sebastian Mendez stepped up to the spot to potentially give Dallas the win. As Petricek came off his line, Mendez shot hard past the keeper’s left, winning the shootout and the game.
Dallas now sits in 5th place with 20 points and a 7-7 record and holds the tiebreaker over Baltimore thanks to the win on January 14. Luiz Morales now sits 5th in the league with 17 goals, while Mike Jones leads with 24 blocked shots and Gamboa with 159 saves. The last time Dallas was this good, this late in the season, was the 2018-2019 season where a tough Southwest Division and a late-season slump kept Dallas out of the playoffs.
Dallas returns next Monday, the 21st, for a matinee fixture against St. Louis.