Sidekicks Honor Tatu, Defeat Rampage
Local sports legends join in celebration of greatest indoor player
By Steve Kinkead
ALLEN, Texas _ The Dallas Sidekicks clinched the PASL Central Division title on Saturday night at the Allen Events Center with a 14-5 win over the Rockford Rampage. The win added to the festive atmosphere as the team honored head coach and indoor soccer legend, Tatu, by retiring his number nine during halftime. The near-sellout crowd witnessed an offensive explosion that saw eight different players score for the Sidekicks (12-3). In the middle of it was a moving and emotional tribute to Tatu for his many exceptional years as player and coach for the team.
The Sidekicks dominated the first quarter in every area but the scoreboard, getting the only goal but having a 10-1 advantage in shots. After some great chances, Dallas got on the board almost nine minutes into the game with a Shaun David goal off a give-and-go with Patrick Shamu through the middle of the Rockford defense.
The second quarter saw a flood of Dallas goals, putting the crowd in a jubilant mood for the halftime celebrations. Renato Pereira started to get the crowd warned up with his 10th goal of the season after 1:52 gone. Just 20 seconds later it was Paulo da Silva’s turn, netting his fifth goal of the season on a neat turn and shoot from Kiley Couch’s feed. Less than a minute later and Dallas had its fourth goal of the game, this time on a breakaway. Sagu hit Shamu on a long throw and he drew his defender into the corner, then crossed to a wide-open Bruno Guardia for the easy goal. Leading scorer Jamie Lovegrove was next up, scoring off another good feed from Shamu. After the first Rockford goal from Gilberto Alfaro, Dallas got its sixth goal of the half. This time Patrick Shamu scored off a set piece from the top of the arc. Lovegrove’s shot missed, but the rebound came to Shamu who made no mistake for the goal. A late Rockford score from Bojan Jovicic couldn’t keep the crowd’s excitement down before the half, which ended with Dallas up 6-2.
Halftime was prolonged as the team and region honored head coach Tatu, who holds team records for goals (736), assists (672) and points (1,408), not to mention a slew of other categories too numerous to mention here. The presentation involved hundreds of youth soccer players, former teammates and coaches, the current Sidekicks, friends and Tatu’s children. A video montage of some of the goals scored and the many people he’s influenced over the years played on the scoreboard., after which Tatu gave an emotional speech thanking the many people and fans who helped him and have played a part in his life.
He was presented with signed jerseys from a major figure from each of the local major non-soccer sports teams, including Roger Staubach, Dirk Nowitzki, Mike Modano and Nolan Ryan, and from the biggest soccer legend in the world, Pele. Staubach, Nowitzki, Modano and Ryan included a detailed video where they recognized and thanked the Sidekicks coach and GM for all of his accomplishments and what it meant to Dallas sports.
After the moving halftime presentation, Dallas couldn’t be stopped as they powered three more goals in during the third quarter. Shaun David got his second of the night off Guardia’s assist with 6:09 gone. Just over a minute later, it was Renato Pereira netting his second goal as well. Marcos Rodriguez hit a wicked shot that the Rockford keeper stopped but couldn’t hold. The rebound came out high and Pereira headed in for the score. Rodriguez then put Dallas up 9-2 with a goal of his own. Guardia took a breakaway on the left and beat a tough check into the wall before passing across to Rodriguez, who slipped the ball in between the keeper’s legs for his first goal of the season.
The fourth quarter was mostly more of the same as Dallas finished on top 14-5. Rockford started the quarter on the power play but it was Dallas that scored. Marcos Rodriguez finished off a breakaway to get the Sidekicks on the board again with his shorthanded effort. Rockford was able to score three consecutive goals, by Christian Balbino, Ivan Stanisavjevic and Bojan Jovicic, bringing their total to five before Dallas ended on another run. Michael Uremovich scored his ninth goal of the season, followed by goals from Jamie Lovegrove, Patrick Shamu and Bruno Guardia with their second each on the night. Dallas ended with a 27-13 advantage in shots, while Sagu made 8 saves in goal.
The final home game of the regular season is on February 23, 7 PM at the Allen Events Center. This will be Fan Appreciation Night and free soccer balls go the first 2,000 kids in attendance. Following that game, the playoff game against an opponent to be determined will be on Thursday, February 28 PM at the same location.