Major League Soccer preseason friendlies continued at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with the American Athletic Conference’s University of South Florida Bulls taking on the MLS Western Conference’s FC Dallas. For USF, the match was an opportunity to hone their skills after an 8-4-9 season in 2013 against elite competition. Meanwhile, FC Dallas is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2013 campaign that saw them finish 8th in the Western Conference table. FC Dallas looked rusty out of the gate, but came together late in the first half as forward Blas Pérez netting a hat trick, as Dallas upended USF, 5-1.
Dallas was on the attack through much of the first half, but could not find the back of the net until Pérez netted the first two of his three goals within two minutes of one another. In the 42nd minute, Pérez scored easily on an assist from Jair Benitez after gaining a two-on-one advantage against USF GK Dallas Jaye. At the 44th minute, Pérez scored again on a penalty kick. USF fought back with a goal of their own as Edwin Moalosi snuck one past Dallas GK Chris Seitz in the 51st minute.
However, it was all Dallas after that as they scored three times in the second half. In the 63rd minute, Matt Hedges scored on an assist from Jair Benitez, then at the 77th minute, Pérez completed the hat trick with an assist from midfielder Danny Garcia. The final goal came in the waning seconds of the match when Ryan Hollingshead, a second year player out of UCLA, tapped in an unassisted goal to make it 5-1 on the afternoon.
The final MLS preseason friendly will get underway on Saturday, Feb. 22 at IMG Academy Stadium when FC Dallas takes on the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League at 7:00 p.m.
For the schedule, directions to IMG Academy and to purchase tickets, please visit www.imgacademy.com/MLS