For the second time in the last three rounds, a Major League Soccer player has turned a hat trick into TheCup.us Player Of The Round honors.
Several weeks ago it was Deshorn Brown of the Colorado Rapids securing the honor in Round 4. This time, in the Quarterfinals, it was FC Dallas striker Blas Perez, who found the back of the net thrice to help his team come away from Cary, North Carolina with a 5-2 win over the NASL’s Carolina Railhawks.
The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters.
In the voting, Perez pulled away from the field with Sebastien Le Toux’s record-breaking goal being the biggest threat. Blas’ teammate Fabian Castillo and Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso also received votes.
The final score didn’t necessarily reflect the game itself. Carolina actually drew first blood in the ninth minute. Perez’s first goal came in the 23rd minute, courtesy of rookie teammate Tesho Akindele, to level things up at one goal apiece. Perez’s second goal was also Dallas’s second. His 34th minute strike put the Hoops up 2-1. Carolina would equalize only to see Dallas net another and take a 3-2 lead into halftime. Perez’s final tally, which came during second half stoppage time, wasn’t the game-winner but it did seal the deal.
Perez became the first Panamanian player in the Modern Professional Era (1995-present) and the third FC Dallas player to score three goals in a single game, joining Dallas fan favorites Bobby Rhine (1999) and Kenny Cooper (2006). The first question Perez received after the game was how it felt to score the hat trick, but he was quick to talk about the team’s win.
“Happy, first of all, for the win because it’s what the team wanted, what the team was looking for.”
Perez had been experiencing a bit of drought coming into the game and was asked if he felt his hard work, despite not scoring, had finally been validated.
“When you work hard, the goals are going to come. The most important thing is if I don’t score, I put in the work.”
Perez has been somewhat underappreciated by MLS in general ever since he arrived in 2012, but it’s easy to see why the 33-year-old veteran is held in such high regard among the fans in Dallas. This was his first hat trick for FC Dallas in any competition.
Dallas, who clinched their eighth US Open Cup semifinal berth, will travel to Philadelphia to face the Union on August 12.
2014 TheCup.us Player of the Round winners
Round 1: Vlad Baciu (RWB Adria – USASA)
Round 2: Luke Winter (Chattanooga FC – NPSL)
Round 3: Earl Edwards Jr. (PSA Elite – USASA)
Round 4: Deshorn Brown (Colorado Rapids – MLS)
Round 5: Scott Goodwin (Carolina RailHawks – NASL)
Quarterfinals: Blas Perez (FC Dallas – MLS)
HIGHLIGHTS: FC DALLAS AT CAROLINA RAILHAWKS
MATCH REPLAY: FC DALLAS AT CAROLINA RAILHAWKS