Austin FC picks up easy win over short-handed FC Dallas

FC Dallas put up a brave display, going down 3-0 with a patchwork side ravaged by injuries, national team duty, and suspension. A lightning delay held kick-off an hour and a half after originally being put back an hour earlier in the week due to heat concerns.

Sitting six substitutes from a possible nine should be a giveaway that FC Dallas’ roster is suffering, and US Soccer’s refusal to let Jesus Ferreira join Gold Cup camp a day late made it that much worse.

Ferreira was joined in his absence by Jader Obrian (suspended), Paul Arriola (quad), Paxton Pomykal (quad), Tsiki Ntsabeleng (Knee), Ema Twumasi (ankle), Jesus Jimenez (ankle), José Martínez (unspecified knock), and Tarik Scott (ACL).

Dallas didn’t start with a recognized striker but would welcome Bernard Kamungo back from a 24-plus hour trip back from Tanzania. Collin Smith also rejoined the team on Monday, returning from loan with Birmingham Legion.

They did have first-choice keeper Maarten Paes with Nkosi Tafari and Sebastien Ibeagha in front. Marco Farfan on the left and a returning Geovane Jesus patched up on the right.

Edwin Cerrillo and Facundo Quignon made up the central midfield, flanked by two players that are normally found at full back, Sam Junqua and Collin Smith.

Wingers-by-trade, Alan Velasco and Herbert Endeley, up front.

Despite the weakened lineup, Dallas threatened inside the first two minutes. Alan Velasco whipped in a free kick – won by Herbie Endeley – that Facundo Quignon met at the far post. The senior Argentine didn’t get enough behind the ball and Brad Stuver was able to collect.

The hosts naturally got on the front foot against the makeshift lineup, getting the best out of Maarten Paes as early as the 13th minute. Nick Lima pinged a cross from the right side. Aleksandar Radovanovic saw a bullet header tipped up that Gyasi Zardes got his head to, with Paes palming the effort wide.

The hosts took the lead four minutes later, and Paes will not want to watch a replay as he couldn’t get more than a light touch on a low cross that Ethan Finlay bundled in from three yards. Zardes appeared to be in an offside position making a play at the front post, but VAR apparently lacked the definitive angle.

Dallas huffed and puffed but couldn’t turn that into chances with Sam Junqua and Alan Velasco needing an outlet that just didn’t exist.

Austin grabbed a second shortly before half time through Diego Fagundez. Paes will again not want to watch this back as he fumbled punching away a cross that was recycled to Fagundez outside the Dallas area. With Paes stuck on his six-yard line, the Uruguayan was left with a straightforward finish.

Sebastian Driussi hadn’t yet announced himself in the game, but he popped up a couple of minutes after the break with a beautifully struck volley off a Fagundez corner. With the ball curling towards to the top corner, Paes acrobatically tipped the ball out for another corner.

Coach Estevez may not have started a striker but had two part-time attackers on the bench. He turned to one, Jose Mulato, in the 54th minute. Mulato replaced Collin Smith, which pushed Endeley back to the wide midfield role he’d been playing for the most part anyway.

Another mistake at the back and another goal in the 57th minute. Geovane Jesus sat several yards behind his fellow defenders, which Gyasi Zardes identified to slip in a couple of yards behind Nkosi Tafari and run on to a through ball from Nick Lima. Paes did well to close down and get something on the shot but not enough to keep the ball out of the net.

Estevez went back to the bench in the 72nd minute, welcoming back Sebastian Lletget after six and a half games out. The former West Ham midfielder replaced Facundo Quignon, while Bernard Kamuno replaced Herbert Endeley on the right.

Amet Korca came in for Geovane two minutes later. That move prompted a 3-4-3 with Junqua switching to right wingback opposite Farfan. Mulato would play as the nine with Velasco and Kamungo flanking.

A goal would have been a moral victory, and Sam Junqua really should have delivered that in the 80th minute. Marco Farfan’s cross was shanked by Owen Wolff, Junqua attempted to place a shot with the ball at an awkward height, but it just wrapped around Brad Stuver’s far post.

Austin wasted a series of great opportunities. Dallas didn’t create many but Edwin Cerrillo did work Stuver twice in injury time. The Waco native then single-handedly defused a 5-v-1 breakaway attempt by Austin.

Up next is rather importantly a week of rest and recuperation before hosting LAFC.

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