Alan Velasco’s winning penalty for FC Dallas in Monday night’s shootout set up an MLS Conference semi-final match against Austin FC, but his penalty has divided opinion.
Dallas were the home favourites against Minnesota United on Sunday night, but they were held to a 1-1 tie in regulation time by the visitors. Even after extra time, the pair couldn’t be separated, setting up a dramatic penalty shootout.
However, a mistake by Minnesota from 12 yards meant that Dallas had the chance to win, and all Velasco had to do was score to put his team through. And even with the importance riding on his spot-kick, he decided to boast his confidence by performing an audacious Panenka penalty, and it worked.
The Panenka penalty continues to divide opinion, and while it’s a completely legal tactic, questions about whether it’s respectful often come up, especially when it’s the winning penalty in a shoot-out.
A miss might leave the taker with egg on their face, but if the keeper is duped, it can be a painful experience.
This time, it was the Minnesota goalkeeper who was the victim, and to make matters worse, Velasco’s penalty wasn’t exactly direct down the centre. Instead, he chipped it to the right, where the keeper dived. The goalkeeper attempted to palm it away but failed.
Of course, Dallas were delighted, and the stadium erupted with joy as their MLS dreams live on. But some fans have branded the star as disrespectful for his actions.
“That’s so disrespectful my god,” one shocked fan said. “I’ve never understood this in a big game. Seems high risk, low reward when the expectation is to convert a penalty,” another disappointed supporter added.
“He did him dirty right there,” one fan claimed. And another gave sympathy to the opposition goalkeeper, as they said: “Wow, imaging your season is ended like that…”
But despite the critics, Dallas head coach Nico Estevez was proud of his player. “Some players have a special gene,” Estevez said of Velasco after the game.
“He’s a competitor. He wants to win, he wants to make FC Dallas big. It’s not only the quality he gave to the team, it’s the work he does. It’s amazing.”
Velasco only suffered an injury last month, but bounced back in style and played all 120 minutes against Minnesota, much to the belief of the boss. “I can’t believe he did it,” Estevez added.
“I was worried, I kept asking him ‘how are you doing?’ He was mad at me that I kept asking. I said, ‘I was trying to take care of you!’ But he kept saying ‘I’m good! I’m running! Did you see that run?!’ It’s unbelievable.”