FRISCO, Texas -- Skipper Ugo Ihemelu's header five minutes into stoppage time lifted FC Dallas to a 1-0 win over New England on Thursday night.
It was about time. FCD was agressive the whole match, but missed on several close opportunities. Ihemelu's header saved them from the heartbreak of a draw.
"We would've been disappointed if we didn't get the win," Ihemelu said. "We knew we put in the work, and it was worth the payoff. That's all we can ask for."
Like all the missed chances, this one nearly didn't happen, too. Head coach Schellas Hyndman almost took Ihemelu out of the game due to cramping.
"I knew if I had to come out last-minute, I would take myself out," Ihemelu said. "Once [the trainer] started working on it, it calmed down quite a bit. Fortunately, I was in the right place at the right time for that goal."
For Hyndman, he said he didn't think Ihemelu could have been more captain-like.
"What a great example for a captain, to stay in there and want to play until the end," Hyndman said.
Ihemelu got the goal, but Hyndman was particularly impressed with the return of striker Fabián Castillo. With David Ferreira out another 6-8 weeks, his speed and aggressiveness adds depth to a team that has had trouble penetrating early in the year.
"I thought he was extremely dangerous, especially earlier in the game when he had his legs under him," Hyndman said.
After tonight, FCD fans could see more of Castillo with Blas Perez instead of a lone-striker formation.
Castillo said he was frustrated that he couldn't put one in the net, but he'll take the win.
"When you create so many opportunities and don't finish them, there's always a chance the opposition is going to finish one of their own," Castillo said through an interpreter. "With the team that we had, we were confident we could get the result, and thankfully [Ihemelu] was able to convert for us and get the three points."
The win snaps a two-game losing skid for FC Dallas, who takes on lowly Montreal on April 14.
New England takes a big step back with the loss after beating Los Angeles 3-1 last week.
Shots (on goal): FC Dallas 13 (4) – New England 12 (5)
Fouls: FC Dallas 12 – New England 4
Possession: FC Dallas 42% – New England 58%
Red cards: FC Dallas 0 – New England 0