FRISCO, Texas (AP) – Listening to the coaches after the game, one might think the result was reversed.
Jackson scored the only goal in the 11th minute off a fortunate bounce and FC Dallas held on to beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 in the teams’ season-opener Saturday night.
Colorado, which went 3-13-1 on the road last season en route to missing the playoffs, just two years after defeating Dallas in the 2010 MLS Cup Final, started five newcomers – including four who were making their MLS debuts.
“I thought it was good,” Rapids coach Oscar Pareja said of his squad’s performance. “I saw a team that was dictating the pace and it was good.”
Dallas, also looking to return to the postseason after finishing sixth in the Western Conference last year, improved its all-time home record against the Rapids to 20-6-4.
“As I said to the guys, we didn’t have a real good performance,” Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said. “We’ve had better training sessions than what we showed. At the same time, they showed a lot of character, a lot of discipline and commitment to come away with the three points. We wish we could have played better.”
Jackson, who had four goals last season, struck after David Ferreira launched a lead ball from beyond midfield. Jackson tried to chase it down and as goalkeeper Steward Ceus charged out of the penalty area, it bounced over him, allowing Jackson an easy shot into an open net.
“Me and David, we work a lot on him giving me the pass, and I saw the defender and just took off,” said Jackson of the play. “And then when I saw that the ball was bouncing, I didn’t expect the mistake by the goalkeeper, but I was ready for it.”
Ceus, starting in place of veteran Matt Pickens, who sat out due to a leg injury, settled down after that and made five saves.
“Just the skip on the ball, I didn’t expect it, I came out to play the ball too early,” said Ceus, who surrendered just his second MLS goal in his four appearances. “It was a bad skip for me. It happens and what you have to do is bounce back and play the 80 other minutes.”
Colorado nearly tied it just three minutes later, but Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, in his first MLS contest, made a nice save on rookie Deshorn Brown’s point-blank shot.
Jackson almost got his second goal in the 18th minute, but his 30-yard blast curled just wide of the right post.
Dallas had another prime opportunity to build on its lead in the 64th minute but Ceus made a diving save on Ferreira’s low shot from the edge of the penalty box.
As time wound down, the Rapids applied considerable pressure, buzzing around the Dallas goal for much of the final 10 minutes, but were unable to get the tying goal.
“Great way to start the season. For the defense, getting a shutout was a positive,” Dallas defender Matt Hedges said. “I thought we handled the pressure well and taking advantage of the opportunity they gave us for the goal. A good result for us.”
With the season just starting, Colorado has already been hobbled by injuries. In addition to Pickens, second-year midfielder Martin Rivero (broken foot, expected to be out 2-3 months), last year’s leading scorer, forward Jaime Castrillon (knee, out until June), and former Los Angeles forward Edson Buddle, who was acquired in an off-season trade but injured his knee training with the U.S. national team.
Dallas was also without forward Blas Perez, who was serving the first of a two-game suspension assessed in the 2012 season finale.
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