By DARRELL LOVELL
Kenny Cooper reminded everyone Sunday why FC Dallas brought him back in the fold with some late game heroics to stoke the fires of the Texas Derby.
With time running out in a tie game, Cooper found space behind the Dynamo back line and after controlling a Luis Michel ball, smashed it into the near corner to give Dallas a 3-2 win; their second of the 2013 campaign.
The goal, however, was not without controversy. Cooper failed on his attempted header and the ball found what looked to be his bicep before settling to the ground. With no whistle, Cooper’s first goal stood and Dallas was left to celebrate pulling out a win in a wild, physical affair.
“I honestly don’t know,” Cooper told reporters about his 90th-minute goal. “I’m not sure. I may have gone to head it and somehow it ended falling right in front of me. I’m honestly not sure.
“It just feels great to beat them.”
Cooper’s goal gave Dallas their fourth win in Texas Derby history but was the tip of the iceberg as far as him being a thorn in Houston’s side.
Cooper went to ground in the 33rd minute when Boniek Garcia attempted to strip the ball, drawing the foul that set up the 40-yard Michel free kick that found George John who, with some assistance from Bobby Boswell, headed the ball home to give Dallas a 1-0 lead.
The foul drew the ire of Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear, who felt the striker and some of his teammates went to ground rather easily on the day.
“I thought the first few minutes looked really good,” the Dynamo coach told reporters after the match. “And then a big guy out in the field threw himself to the ground and gets a free kick. And they got a goal out of it.
“When you have guys that don’t even get looked at, don’t get touched, falling on the ground looking for fouls, it makes me want to throw up.”
Cooper’s winner rescued Dallas after the club saw a two-goal lead evaporate due to a stirring Dynamo comeback led by their substitutes.
Down 2-0 at halftime, the Dynamo switched to a 4-3-3 and got a boost from their subs heading down the stretch, most notably from newcomer Andrew Driver. The midfielder opened his MLS account in stylish fashion crushing a Kofi Sarkodie cross off the crossbar and into goal to cut the deficit in half in the 79th minute.
The energy seemed contagious as two of Driver’s fellow subs Brian Ching, who entered for the injured Will Bruin, and Cam Weaver got into the act and helped bring Houston level in the 83rd minute. The target forwards work down the sideline looked to set up Driver in front of goal. The midfielder failed to reach Weaver’s ball, but Brad Davis was not far behind and the US international cleaned up the spill to give Houston what looked to a point on the day that ultimately was not to be.
Houston was in the two goal hole due to some suspect defending on set pieces in the first half.
Two minutes after John’s 33rd-minute header, Houston was the victim of a self-inflicted wound when Andrew Jacobson shook free from Ricardo Clark to one-time a David Ferreria corner kick to put the Dynamo in a 2-0 halftime hole.
“We had spells in the first half when we were good but gave up two goals on set pieces, which is uncharacteristic of this team,” Bobby Boswell said.
The lead was especially tough for Houston to take considering the visitors had the first real chance of the game.
After 20 minutes of even play, Giles Barnes broke past the Dallas back line to head on goal. Instead of slotting a ball across a charging Raul Fernandez to a wide open Bruin, Barnes chose to take a shot right at the Dallas ‘keeper, killing the chance.
Dallas did not miss their chances and their set piece success and Cooper’s heroics were enough to earn bragging rights over their rivals to the south for the next year.