Blas Pérez is not Major League Soccer’s most popular man. His physicality and the occasional embellishment of contact often steal the headlines, although he can also be very dangerous in front of goal.
He showed that side of himself against the Vancouver Whitecaps, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win on Saturday. The first came from a bouncing ball on the right flank, when he lofted it toward goal in what looked like a cross attempt, but it ended up sailing over goalkeeper David Ousted’s head and inside the back post.
With little time left in the game, he scored the winner from a more traditional position, taking a knockdown inside the penalty area off a set piece and firing it easily into the net. He also had a goal in between those two that was rightly called back for offside, as he was all over the place against Vancouver.
Pérez’s performance led Dallas manager Óscar Pareja to laud him for his leadership by example.
“Blas set the tone for this group, in the locker room and off the field also,” Pareja said after the match. “In the field you saw it: he is a player who gives all what he has, and the game rewarded him with two goals today.”
Pérez is the classic case of a player that his teammates love and opponents hate. Nobody in the Dallas locker room will complain about his style of play, much like other players around the world who play with similar fire are loved by teammates and supporters.
He’s joined by 10 others on this week’s Best XI:
Planet Fútbol MLS Best XI — Week 27
• Troy Perkins (Montreal Impact): After watching the last five league games from the bench and seeing Evan Bush play pretty well himself, Perkins finally got another chance on Saturday against New England. He responded with eight saves, perhaps indicating that the bench has been a good motivator for the veteran goalkeeper.
• Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew): Francis assisted both Columbus goals in a 2-2 draw with Houston, creating five chances total. He was very accurate with his crosses, finding his intended target with four out of five attempts.
• Zach Loyd (FC Dallas): Loyd recovered eight loose balls and made five interceptions to lead the Dallas back line in a close win over Vancouver. The 27-year-old has been an important part of Dallas’ lineup all season, starting all but six of the team’s league games.
• Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps): After nearly scoring twice last week, Waston finally got his goal against San Jose. He also drew the penalty for the Whitecaps’ first goal of the game, also on an aerial ball in the box off a set piece.
• DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders): Yedlin continues to mature and grow as a player, showing serious progress in the attack against Real Salt Lake. He had two assists on the match and completed 81 percent of his passes and two of his three attempted crosses and take-ons.
• Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake): Morales scored and added an assist on the other RSL goal in a 3-2 loss to the Sounders, along with completing 93 percent of his passes. The goal was his eight in 2014, tying his single-season career high.
• Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution): Nguyen initiated and capped a good combination play on his goal against Montreal, also torching the Impact back line on the dribble and nearly scoring again in the second half. His rise has coincided with the Revs’ rise in the standings, making Nguyen a dark-horse candidate for league MVP.
• Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact): Piatti scored again in Montreal’s 2-2 draw with LA. He also created one goalscoring opportunity and looked generally dangerous despite his team’s attack faltering in the second half of that match.
• Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution): Rowe scored from long distance against Montreal, dipping a shot underneath Perkins. He also completed 89 percent of his passes and created two goalscoring opportunities.
• Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City): Zusi scored once and added an assist in Kansas City’s 4-0 demolishing of Chivas. His goal was a measure of patience, cutting inside and patiently dribbling until a space to shoot opened in the Chivas back line.
• Blas Pérez (FC Dallas): Pérez scored both of Dallas’ goals in a 2-1 win over Vancouver. His first was a wondrous strike from the sideline, which will show up in Goal of the Year voting, whether it was intentional or not.