Amid a dramatic Decision Day, FC Dallas saw out its forgettable 2021 campaign with a well earned road point in San Jose.
You don’t change a winning team, and Marco Ferruzzi lived up to that, sticking with the Copa Tejas winning lineup. The most notable change for Dallas was Jesus Ferreira wearing the captain’s armband.
“It was my decision. I spoke with the coaches, but I also spoke with our captain Matt Hedges. Hedges has been a part of our club, he’s going to go down as a club legend, and he’s still our club captain. But as part of our process and things that we do, development is in our DNA at FC Dallas, which also means that you have to develop leaders. Putting the armband on Jesus, he’s earned it through his play this year, making it a bounce back here in some regard coming off an injury earlier in the season. He’s put responsibility on himself on the field.”Marco Ferruzzi
The biggest team news was Chris Wondolowski making his ninth start of the season, in what he later announced on the field was the final appearance in one of Major League Soccer’s most storied careers.
Cade Cowell burst onto the scene with a goal and an assist against FCD way back in the second game of the season. The 18-year-old didn’t get the start, but would replace an injured Cristian Espinoza in the 16th minute. After an opening half hour barren of a worthwhile chance, Cowell naturally had to be involved in the first shot on target and the opening goal.
Cowell combined with Marcos Lopez down the San Jose left, with the latter playing the ball into open space around the penalty spot. Wondolowski peeled away from Ryan Hollingshead at the back post, found the loose ball and curled home his 171st MLS goal in the 34th minute.
While Wondo pushed an MLS record along at one end, Ricardo Pepi had the chance to get outright ownership of the record for most goals by a teenager in an MLS season.
Edwin Cerrillo played a ball down the right that Jader Obrian was able to win against Lopez. The Dallas winger broke clear, knocking the ball across Daniel Vega before being clipped by the Quakes keeper. Pepi tried to go top-right with the penalty, but the crossbar was not friendly to the Homegrown as the ball bounced in front of the line and clear.
The pace of Obrian and Cowell was always likely to be a well exploited outlet by both sides, and the Colombian winger took full advantage in his 42nd minute equalizer. After disrupting a short corner by dispossessing Paul Marie, Obrian bolted towards the San Jose goal. Meanwhile Jesus Ferreira recovered the stray ball in the Dallas area, launching the ball down the left to find Obrian’s run. Well clear of the Earthquakes’ defense, Obrian slid the ball down the side of the advancing Vega.
The goal would be Obrian’s final impact on the game, before picking up an injury that saw his withdrawal at half time for Szabolcs Schon. With both sides making earlier than expected injury subs, it took until the 73rd minute before any further changes. San Jose made a triple change including the rare subbed-in and subbed-out day for Cade Cowell.
Ferruzzi opted for Andres Ricaurte coming on for Edwin Cerrillo, and a few minutes later a straight swap of Franco Jara for Ricardo Pepi. The former pushed Ferreira back in the Dallas midfield three.
The game, between two teams out of the playoff running, lacked clear-cut chances. Jimmy Maurer played spoiler earlier in the half, denying Cowell with a reaction save. It appeared the young forward had a back post tap-in off some fantastic quick play in the San Jose attack, but the FCD GK was able to redirect the shot wide with his foot.
The game began to come to life later on as tired legs crept in. Maurer had to race out to stop Wondolowski running through one-on-one. Tafari had a header he may want back from a free kick in an advantageous position.
Freddy Vargas was Dallas’ final sub, replacing Paxton Pomykal in the final minutes, and immediately almost gifted Wondo that fairytale end. After attempting to play his way out of pressure in the Dallas box, he passed to Wondolowski, before recovering to poke the ball away.
The closing stages had been all San Jose as the Quakes peppered the Dallas area with free kicks and corners looking for the 38-year-old, but Dallas managed to see out three minutes of stoppage time to seal a point.
“We’re not happy, we’re not super sad, but we’re a little bit of a lot of different things. I think the biggest takeaway for us tonight was just to battle and show our character. We talked a lot about in the past seeing a lot of teams in this situation, just kind of walk through the game. They just get through it and end up getting smacked.”Jimmy Maurer
That 33rd point was one fewer than the 2020 season which only saw 22 games rather than the usual 34. The draw brings a close to the second worst season in franchise history – the worst being the 2003 season that saw Dallas fall to a 6-19-5 record while playing out of Southlake’s Dragon Stadium.