Dallas keeps up the fight despite defensive mishaps in New York

A stunning second half gave FC Dallas another road point behind strong counter attacking play, but defensive errors crept up once again.

“No, not happy with the point. We need to win, and it’s that point of the season where we’re not going to have a playoff picture if we don’t make these games our playoffs.”

Luchi Gonzalez

Luchi Gonzalez made a single change from Saturday’s draw against San Jose. Nkosi Tafari came back into the side with Matt Hedges taking a rest from central defense. Jimmy Maurer recovered to take a seat on the bench with Phelipe maintaining the start in goal.

Jader Obrian had touches in great positions against San Jose, but showed some poor decision making where he could take an extra touch or find a team mate with a pass. It took two minutes for Jesus Ferreira to give Obrian another one of those decisions as he ran through clear of two defenders into the right side of the area. Much like on Saturday, the Colombian slowed up and tried a hopeful shot from a poor position that Sean Johnson easily held.

That said, not even a minute later, the 26-year-old didn’t have much choice in giving FC Dallas the early lead. Dallas held the ball out wide through Justin Che, with few options in the area. A short pass to Paxton Pomykal popped up on Pomykal’s first touch, he then lofted a hopeful cross into the box. Anton Tinnerholm tried to take the ball under control but took an awkward touch behind the Swede leaving Obrian with a tap in under Johnson.

Dallas scored without NYCFC taking a touch in the Dallas half, but the goal spurred the Pigeons into life with a dominant 15 minute period that culminated in an equalizer by Maxi Moralez. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi drove the ball down the left, playing a long cross to the far side of the Dallas area. Jesus Medina took the ball down, holding up Jesus Ferreira as Moralez snuck further from any Dallas player before receiving a backheel pass.

The low shot from out wide really should have been dealt with better. Phelipe got down to the ball but could only bounce it off the ground and over Pomykal’s attempted header off the line.

The only two shots in the box had produced goals, and Justin Che created a third such chance out of nothing – but no goal. Che dribbled down the Dallas right under no pressure. Spotting Jesus Ferreira clear of marker Keaton Parks, Che lifted a through ball into the box that Ferreira tried to half volley but couldn’t control his shot.

The half played out with Dallas dropping to a low block and attempting to catch NYCFC on the break. One name that hadn’t featured in those opening moments was Ricardo Pepi. The man of the moment made only one touch beyond the center circle as most of the opening 45 minutes were spent in the Dallas half.

It didn’t take too long for El Tren to get involved in after the break. Jesus Ferreira attempted a through ball to put Pepi one-on-one in the opening seconds that got caught up between Pepi and his marker, before Jader Obrian found Pepi in the box for a first timer that Sean Johnson managed to parry out for a corner.

Much like the first half, New York City FC really began to take control of the midfield through Frisco’s Parks and Nicolas Acevado. Luchi Gonzalez reacted early with a 56th minute change. Bryan Acosta in for Brandon Servania.

Luchi has talked about not upsetting things when he hesitates on subs, and one might wonder whether that change did disrupt FCD as NYCFC took the lead just a minute later. Acevado had time on the ball on the NYCFC right with Dallas in a low block again. He switched play to Gudmundur Thorarinsson, who drove a ball centrally to Maxi Moralez. Moralez didn’t seem to get much behind his shot, which Phelipe was only able to push to within striking distance for Jesus Medina.

Back to the bench in the 62nd minute and you may see a pattern emerge a minute later. Andres Ricaurte came in for Facundo Quignon, pushing Bryan Acosta back to the six. Szabolcs Schon replaced Paxton Pomykal, who wasn’t having much luck making an impression in such a defensive shape.

That single minute later Ricardo Pepi received a pass from Jose Martinez making a rare run on the left. Pepi burst through Parks and Acevado, playing in Jesus Ferreira ahead of Thorarinsson to score his fourth goal in four games, and more importantly level the score.

FC Dallas came to Red Bull Arena off the back of two away games where they’d conceded three times, and they did it again in the 68th minute. Once more the low block seemed to aid New York City as they freely moved the ball around to Thorarinsson on the left. This time, Jesus Ferreira can’t prevent a looping cross to the back post where Talles Magno takes advantage of Jose Martinez ball-watching to volley home at the back post.

You could discount Martinez’s mark scoring the NYCFC second off a weak parry, but failing to mark inside the six yard box on the very next cross in from the Dallas right seemed to spell the end for the Spaniard as well as Justin Che. Matt Hedges checked in along with Eddie Munjoma in the 72nd minute.

“You see it in every game. There’s a change that can be positive or negative, with energy or maybe a lack of organization. Those things can can go your way or not.”

Luchi Gonzalez

Just like clockwork, Dallas got its third a minute later. Jader Obrian’s defensive work has arguably been better than his play on the offensive side of the ball. An all-Colombian goal came as Obrian robbed the ball off Acevado with a standing challenge from behind, it fell to Andres Ricaurte who played the simple pass back to Obrian to finish low for his second of the night.

Eddie Munjoma’s season hasn’t had a lot of highlight plays as his brief time with North Texas SC had, but he almost scored the goal of the season in the 85th minute with a chest trap and volley on the run that would have dipped under Sean Johnson’s crossbar but for a well timed tip over the bar. Matt Hedges should have won the game from the resulting corner. The FCD captain won a header close to goal but could only glance it wide.

FC Dallas had its unwanted three game run of conceding three on the road, and NYCFC kept up a record of its own in stoppage time. Thiago had a yellow card turned red after a VAR review. The New York City sub had gone over the top of the ball catching Jesus Ferreira just below the knee to ensure that NYCFC finished with ten men for the third straight game.

While the point on the road at a leading Eastern Conference team is a welcome surprise, there are ever more questions being asked of this FC Dallas defense. Phelipe’s control of the box and ability to react well to low shots has been an issue. Jose Martinez losing his marks. Justin Che’s tendency to burst forward or inside left a lot of space that three crosses came in from that were converted. The Dallas back line had been strong against crosses and set pieces, but those are becoming a recurring talking point.

After the 3-2 loss to RSL, Ryan Hollingshead talked about the offense putting the team in winning positions only for the team to give up sloppy goals. An improvement needs to be made before heading to Houston for the final rivalry game of the season on Saturday. While a draw keeps El Capitan, and its limited bragging rights, only a win will do for FC Dallas’ playoff hopes.

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