Matt Hedges (middle) scored a key goal for FC Dallas against Suchitepequez in Week 6 of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. (Photo courtesy of FC Dallas)
With the start of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League just two weeks away, CONCACAF.com will get you geared up for the knockout round action with SCCL Quarterfinal Countdown – a series of articles that highlight the group stage’s memorable moments and feats.
Matt Hedges – Header Propels FC Dallas Past Suchitepequez
In order to earn a spot in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League knockout rounds, visiting FC Dallas needed to avoid defeat against Suchitepequez in the Group H game last October.
Things took a sudden turn at the Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores, when the Venados jumped out to a 2-0 lead before 22 minutes had passed.
Matt Hedges, the impressive FC Dallas defender, didn’t panic.
“There was a lot of time left,” he told CONCACAF.com. “We know that we can score goals. We know we are capable of coming back.”
A Carlos Gruezo header halved the deficit in the 27th minute and Hedges equalized eight minutes later. Mauro Rosales lofted a right-sided free kick towards the left post, where the 6-foot-4, 26-year-old headed powerfully into the back of the net from four-yards out.
It was Hedges’ first-ever SCCL goal, propelling FCD to an eventual 5-2 victory.
“Set pieces…we have one of the most dangerous teams in the U.S. on set pieces,” said Hedges. “That was something that allowed us to get back into the game.
“Getting a free kick goal gives a lot of energy to the team. It lifts us and allows us to keep moving forward and gives us the hope that we’re back in it.”
The goal was confidently taken. What was Hedges thinking as the ball sliced through the heavy Guatemala City evening air?
“I saw the ball was high in the air and I knew that the guy who was marking me wasn’t close anymore,” Hedges remarked. “I was just thinking to head it back across the goal because the goalkeeper wasn’t going to be able to reach it and that’s what I did.”
Dallas went on to strike for three more goals to seal advancement to the SCCL quarterfinals for the first time.
The achievement meant a lot to Hedges.
“It’s huge. It’s the Champions League,” he finished. “We’re in the next round and we’ll play bigger and bigger teams, so we’re really excited.”