FC Dallas is through to the conference semifinals after a panenka penalty by Alan Velasco secured the 5-4 triumph over Minnesota United.
Despite Minnesota United taking a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute of the match through a clinical strike by Emanuel Reynoso, Dallas came back with an equalizer by Facundo Quignon to force the game into extra time. After 120 minutes of play and a persistent 1-1 draw, the teams took to penalties.
FC Dallas triumphed 5-4, eliminating Minnesota United.
Head coach Nico Estevez hailed his side after the victory, but pointed to youngster Alan Velasco in particular for his determination throughout the game.
“Some players have a special gene,” Estevez said of Velasco after the game. “He’s a competitor. He wants to win, he wants to make FC Dallas big. It’s not only the quality he gave to the team, it’s the work he does. It’s amazing.”
Velasco missed a month of the 2022 MLS regular season due to injury, only making his return to the pitch on Decision Day to feature for 29 minutes. But the forward played as if nothing had happened on Monday night against Minnesota United, lasting all 120 minutes before securing a heroic win.
“I can’t believe he did it,” Estevez said of Velasco playing the entire game after injury. “I was worried, I kept asking him ‘how are you doing?’ He was mad at me that I kept asking. I said, ‘I was trying to take care of you!’ But he kept saying ‘I’m good! I’m running! Did you see that run?!’ It’s unbelievable.”
Velasco has been a key component in FC Dallas’ recent success after arriving in a club-record transfer from Independiente last winter. He managed six goals and seven assists in his first MLS campaign, adapting well to the team and Estevez’s style.
The player will have a chance to extend his tallies as the team prepares to face Austin FC in the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday at Q2 Stadium.
“It’s going to be tough in Austin,” Sebastian Lletget said on the field after the game. “But we’re ready.”