FC Dallas returned from what Luchi Gonzalez described as some disappointment as his players missed the chance to right some wrongs in a postponed weekend game. Sporting Kansas City arrived in Frisco on the back of three wins and looking to avenge a heated loss to Dallas a month ago.
With Matt Hedges recovering from a hamstring strain, Bressan came in for his sixth start of the season.
Luchi Gonzalez had talked at length about his options in Monday’s media call, particularly talking up Tanner Tessmann a midfield rotation with Andres Ricaurte and Bryan Acosta as regular defensive midfielder Thiago Santos was in need of rest. That was the eventual starting midfield with Barrios, Picault, and Jara completing the 4-3-3.
“I think we’ve improved in our in our playing style of of trying to be protagonists, but we weren’t getting the result right so I thought we put a more complete performance today.”Luchi Gonzalez on the win compared to recent results
Sporting can count themselves luck not to cough up an early goal as a rare outswinging corner from Andres Ricaurte finds the head of Ryan Hollingshead, but the FCD left back put narrowly over the bar.
The low block has certainly been Luchi Gonzalez’s Achilles’ Heel, but Dallas was finding success getting behind with seven accurate first half crosses. The rotating three-man midfield played a strong role in breaking down SKC’s attempts to build out.
One of those midfielders came close to an eye catching assist midway through the first half as Tanner Tessmann played a fantastic cross-field pass from the half to Fafa Picault in the SKC area. Picault pulled the ball down and cut back on to his right foot but shoots over with two options to pass in the box.
FC Dallas seems to enjoy riling up Peter Vemes and will have certainly ruined his half-time team talk with a goal in the dying minutes of the first period.
“Credit to the team. When you have a right back crossing it and Ryan scoring – the left back – that shows you the commitment. The guys wanted to get forward, and get on the end of things in the box, so that certainly was our desire. We want to keep playing in that way, taking risks and going for it.”Luchi Gonzalez on the goal
Andres Ricaurte knocked a loose ball away from a 50-50 challenge and played Bryan Reynolds through close to the by line. Reynolds, under little pressure, crossed deep into the path of Ryan Hollingshead whose first-time effort hit the post and Melia’s head on the way in.
Dallas could have doubled the lead just five minutes after the break. Franco Jara caused problems in the back line advancing to the edge of the area under some slick passing out of the Dallas midfield. Jaylin Linsdey attempted to deflect the ball away from Jara, but could only find Michael Barrios on the other side of the box. Barrios wasn’t able to pressure Melia with a rushed half-volley.
Another Tessmann cross-field bomb sent Michael Barrios down the left wing shortly before the hour. The Colombian’s run saw an unsteady Lindsey retreat into the box with no obvious option for the winger. Perhaps as surprised as anyone else in the stadium, Franco Jara saw the ball narrowly squeezed through to his feet, but his left footed effort wasn’t struck cleanly and sailed wide.
“One of my things that I think is a quality in my game is I’m able to connect those long passes and help us get the attack. I think in the first half that was just what the game was asking for. But me, Bryan [Acosta], Andres [Ricaurte], and our center boxes all have that have that in their bag.”Tanner Tessmann on his cross-field passing
As the hour came and went, Vermes’ men adopted a higher block to pressure Dallas. Gonzalez responded by bringing his destroyer – Thiago Santos – off the bench to sit alongside Tessmann in a double pivot before Brandon Servania completed the old-school flat three man midfield look with Barrios swinging between left midfield and the attacking line.
As time went on, the more SKC looked like their classic attacking sides of past years. Johnny Russell forced a careful sliding tackle after breaking into the FCD box in the final ten minutes.
After winning a header with Reto Ziegler moments later, Erik Hurtado had a favorable chance but pressure from Bressan forced the Sporting striker to blaze his half-volley over the bar.
Sporting thought they had an equalizer in the 87th minute as Jimmy Maurer parried a cross into the path of Gadi Kinda. The Ethiopian took a stab at the rebound only to see Maurer palm it. Johnny Russell slammed up the follow-up effort only for referee Armando Villareal to wave the goal off as Kinda wrestled Maurer to the ground.
SKC’s efforts could be well summed up by a free kick taken by US hopeful Gianluca Busio a few moments earlier. A lot of hustle in the area, a run up exuding determination, but the ball rolled straight to the feet of Michael Barrios ten yards away as Sporting failed to score for the first time this season.
“It [SKC’s low block] was an interesting tactic from them. To come back sitting back so much, to not really be pressing the game. Maybe that was because they’re coming off a game three days ago. Who knows? But for us, it’s not our decision to make if they want to play that style, we’re going to press high like we did. We should have created even more chances and we should have put a couple of those away in the first half and in the second half. So bummer for that not to be a three zero win there.”Ryan Hollingshead on the game
The win moves Dallas into the top four and a home playoff game on points-per-game in a season that looks increasingly likely to be decided that way.