Ten games ago, Pablo Mastreoni picked up his first win at Toyota Stadium as Real Salt Lake came back from conceding an early goal. Four defeats and four draws later, they did it again to condemn FCD to a run of ten games without a win dating back to the 5-3 win against their next opponents, Austin FC.
“Disappointing result. Again we started well, played very well. A lot of good moments in control the game. To be honest I didn’t feel particularly threatened by Salt Lake but always with respect, understanding that that at any time they could come forward and create some problems for us.”Marco Ferruzzi
Marco Ferruzzi made two changes from the weekend. Ema Twumasi sat out after accumulating five yellow cards, while Paxton Pomykal was rested to give Szabolcs Schon a rare start. Phelipe had missed the draw at LA through suspension, then picked up a thigh injury that meant Jimmy Maurer started once again.
Matty Hedges failed to score in 2020, the first season of his career without a goal, but 2021 will finish at least one better. Staying up after a corner was cleared away, Justin Che teased a ball into the box from distance that David Ochoa rushed out to clear. Hedges lost marker Nick Besler and easily outjumped the Mexican international to give Dallas the 20th minute lead.
The hosts should have had another between two chances shortly after that resulted in Real Salt Lake free kicks. Franco Jara had a deflected header seemingly going in when Jader Obrian attempted and missed a bicycle kick from an offside position to kill the play. Obrian later made a run into the RSL box before Ochoa dove at the Colombian’s feet. Franco Jara saw his shot blocked on the line by an RSL hand, but Ismael Elfath pulled play back to the earlier collision.
Elfath didn’t endear himself to the FC Dallas players just days after running the rule over Tim Melia’s wrestling match with Cristian Roldan, but maybe he sought to be overly careful in showing Franco Jara a yellow card. The booking came for simulation in the area when it looked like the Argentine went down under a fair challenge from Erik Holt with no theatrics or appeal for a penalty.
RSL hadn’t really featured much in the game, with a 0.03 xG by half time (h/t Jon Arnold!). They did finally get a real shot off in the 65th minute after Maikel Chang attempted to curl a shot through traffic that Jimmy Maurer was able to safely push away. Aaron Herrera followed up a couple of minutes later with a stinging shot from distance that struck the base of the post.
Szabolcs Schon made way from Paxton Pomykal in the 66th minute for FC Dallas’ first change. Jader Obrian followed ten minutes later with Andres Ricaurte getting on in his place. The changes came in response to movement on the visiting bench that led to the game shifting.
“We stopped trying to play. You see the first half and we were playing nice ball, over the ball, or creating chances. It seems like a five or ten minute period becomes, what, do we slowly drop off lines and all of a sudden they have all the ball and they’re crossing it in our box the whole time. So we’ve got to figure it out.”Matt Hedges
FC Dallas sat back and took the pressure from RSL, but nothing threatening came until Justin Meran curled a spectacular shot from outside the area that came off the post and the top of Jimmy Maurer’s head. That may have been the spark needed for the visitors, who soon equalized off a cross from Meram, that Damir Kreilach was able to poke home from close range.
The loudest cheer of the night came as Ricardo Pepi ran down the touchline to make his substitute appearance, replacing Franco Jara with eight minutes left to deliver Ferruzzi’s first win. A host of great chances came and went for the likes of Jesus Ferreira and Andres Ricaurte, but not Pepi, who was double man-marked at times.
Ferreira had been imperious in every facet other than finishing, seeing only one of four shots hit the target. Dallas as a whole struggled in front of goal with only six of 23 shots on frame.
Even though the game looked to be going Dallas’ way, Real Salt Lake snatched win in the last ten minutes of regular time through Albert Rusnak. Rusnak ran down the left after recycling a ball from a set piece. The Slovakian played a one-two with Meram before catching the inside of Maurer’s far post with an audacious first time attempt.
Marco Ferruzzi talked about the need for competition that isn’t stooping to asking professionals to play spoiler, and FC Dallas’ final competitive activity comes on Saturday. A draw or win against Austin FC would hand the inaugural Copa Tejas MLS trophy to the Huntsmen. Furthermore, Dallas will look to win to ensure a first season since 2003 with fewer home wins than losses.
“These guys are driven to win trophies, whatever form, 100%… We’re in a unique position now in Texas and as a Texas boy, I can sit here and go ‘we’re talking about a Texas trophy? Wow!'”Marco Ferruzzi