Sidekicks return in winning fashion

The Dallas Sidekicks are back. After an eight year hiatus from professional soccer, the Dallas Sidekicks returned to action Saturday night, defeating the Harrisburg Heat 6-2, in front of a lively home crowd of 5,909 at the Allen Event Center. Even Dallas NBA star Dirk Nowitzki welcome the Sidekicks back, appearing on the big screen in a taped segment urging fans to cheer on the home team moments before the game started.

This game also marked the coaching showdown of two former Dallas teammates, current Sidekicks head coach Tatu and Heat head coach Richard Chinapoo. Before the game started, Tatu delivered some season opening words and thanked the Sidekicks fans for supporting the team.

Once all the pregame festivities commenced however, it was time to get down to business. And both teams started aggressively, taking the initial quarter to get settled down.

A frenetically-paced first quarter ended in a scoreless tie, with Harrisburg having a 12-4 advantage in shots, most of which occurred during a Harrisburg powerplay.  Dallas played strong powerplay defense during the first half, and at the 4:33 mark of the second quarter, Sidekicks forward Carlos Videla scored the first Dallas goal of the season, off an assist from defender Kylie Couch.

After some hard-nosed, back and forth play between the two teams, Couch scored the second goal of the night for Dallas, off an assist from forward Shawn David, making it 2-0 Sidekicks at the 10:49 mark of the second quarter. During the second quarter, Dallas began to catch up on shots on goal, and thanks to some nifty footwork along the baseboards, Videla scored at the 12:57 mark of the second quarter.

Dallas held a 3-0 lead at the half, with a 19-17 advantage in shots over Harrisburg.

The second half started off similar to the first, when Sidekicks forward Patrick Shamu scored quickly into the third quarter, off an assist forward Renato Pereira at the 1:12 mark, to make it 4-0 Sidekicks.

Sidekicks goalkeeper Sagu thwarted several Harrisburg attempts throughout the night, making 21 saves on 23 attempts, including some diving saves and breakaways he turned away, until Harrisburg got on the board in the third.

At the 14:40 mark of the third quarter, Heat forward Tom Mellor scored the first Harrisburg goal of the season, assisted by Midfielder Tyler Witmer.

In the fourth quarter, Frank Mbemba and Renato Pereira scored for Dallas, while Mitchell Walters scored for Harrisburg, making the final score 6-2.

Overall, it was a successful night for both expansion teams’ return to professional soccer, and a successful night for the Professional Arena Soccer League. The Dallas Sidekicks’ return to professional soccer was met with great fan support and enthusiasm, and the team delivered a product that sent the crowd home happy. The Sidekicks season motto of “we’re back” is certainly true now.

The Dallas Sidekicks now have a 13-7 record on opening night, improving to 11-2 when opening the season at home. The Dallas victory over Harrisburg gives Dallas a 3-2 advantage all-time against Harrisburg. This was the first game between the two teams since December 28, 2002, when Harrisburg defeated Dallas 10-8. The win improves Tatu’s head coaching record to 85-68.