COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - You can teach passing. You can teach tactics. You can even teach certain skills.
You can’t, however, teach what Vicente Sanchez did on Saturday night.
The Colorado Rapids’ creative midfielder spent his Saturday evening toying with the FC Dallas defense, zig-zagging his way around defender after defender and showcasing an eye-catching array of bicycle kicks and flashy dribbles that had the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park crowd chanting his name by the midway point of the second half.
Oh, and he also scored a brilliant goal and initiated the go-ahead own goal in the Rapids’ critical 2-1 win over FC Dallas.
“That’s why Vicente’s here,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said of Sanchez post-game. “The people are getting in love with [Sanchez], and most important is that his teammates are gelling with him and Gaby [Torres]. These guys know that coming to this locker room means there is no egos, no one is bigger than this club.”
The 33-year-old Uruguayan only arrived in Colorado last month, but it hasn’t taken long for the former Mexican league standout to become a fan favorite in Commerce City. His flair in the midfield had the crowd roaring all match long, and his 59th minute volley provided the equalizer and one of his crosses – after juking his way past Dallas defender George John – set up an own goal that pushed the Rapids ahead for good in the 65th.
“I’m happy because this is what we’ve worked to all season,” Sanchez said in Spanish after the game. “These are playoff games that we have to win.”
For a Colorado area that had been severely affected by some of the worst floods in the state’s history this week – flood waters closed the primary highway off-ramp to get to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and practices were delayed by the endless rains – Sanchez’s display of skills were undoubtedly a welcome distraction for the 13,000-plus on hand to witness the critical victory.
“We had a difficult week here in Colorado," Sanchez said. "So we're hoping that this win can give a little bit of joy to the people and perhaps distance them a little from the suffering that the rain is causing.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.