Dallas’ playoff chances take a hit with home tie

FC Dallas had the better of the San Jose Earthquakes but missed out on a chance to apply pressure in the playoff race in that all important home game in the six-from-seven run on the road.

“It was a game I felt like we dominated. We started poor, we gave up that goal and after that goal they didn’t really create anything. We had all the momentum. We had chances. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a result but I feel like we gave everything tonight, and we definitely missed out on two points.”

Ema Twumasi

Players came and went from Luchi Gonzalez’s plans this week. While FC Dallas welcomed back Ricardo Pepi, Szabolcs Schon, Bryan Acosta, and Freddy Vargas from international duty, they also lost Franco Jara and Ryan Hollingshead to injury.

Phelipe kept the start in goal with Jimmy Maurer still out. The big surprise came as Nkosi Tafari’s 16-game starting run ended with the New Yorker dropping to the bench for a central defensive partnership of Matt Hedges and Jose Martinez. Ema Twumasi flipped to the left side of defense with Justin Che returning to right back.

Facu Quignon was the only change in midfield, replacing Edwin Cerrillo to start alongside Brandon Servania. Despite Schon’s return, the Hungarian winger only took a place on the bench as Luchi opted to stick with a Paxton Pomykal, Jesus Ferreira, Jader Obrian line behind Ricardo Pepi.

Chris Wondolowski made a rare start for the Qualkes after Jeremy Ebobisse — who had run Dallas ragged for Portland earlier in the year — suffered a head injury in their loss to Colorado. Cade Cowell’s season gained some notoriety after humbling FCD earlier in the season, but the teenager had to settle for a fifth consecutive bench appearance.

As two first half penalties killed the game for Dallas in Northern California, the Huntsmen gave away another spot kick in only the fourth minute of the game. Facundo Quignon lost the ball close to the FCD box, Matt Hedges attempted to tackle Jackson Yueill but handled the ball on the ground. Oswaldo Alanis was one-for-two against Jimmy Maurer, this time it was straight up the middle and past Phelipe for the early lead.

Dallas struggled to create chances early on, only forcing JT Marcinkowski into work for the first time in the 32nd minute courtesy of a long shot from Jader Obrian. The team’s first solid chance came eight minutes later through Jesus Ferreira after meeting a low Ema Twumasi cross in the area that Marcinkowski was able to get down to push the shot away from goal.

Jader Obrian could have given FC Dallas an equalizer with the last kick of the first half. Ricardo Pepi picked up a clearance off a Jackson Yueill free kick, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, before attempting to find Jesus Ferreira through traffic on the break. Justin Che raced through to secure the ball, feeding Obrian in space but his rushed left footed shot was easily gathered.

After getting caught out early, Dallas looked solid up to the final third. Although no changes to the lineup, the team noticeably increased its pressing and moved the ball around at a quicker pace.

Justin Che made a highlight reel run a couple of minutes into the half, taking the ball box-to-box before watching his low shot get blocked. The Homegrown stayed up – both full backs had played high up in the first half already – long enough for Jader Obrian to spread the ball out to the right. Ricardo Pepi met Che’s cross off a diagonal run to head in his 12th of the year and FCD’s leveller.

The hosts dominated the early stages of the second half, creating openings in the final third without converting many into shots. The biggest chance after the goal fell to MLS record scorer Chris Wondolowski from a 57th minute corner. Wondo couldn’t add to his 168 career league goals, planting a free header from six yards off the crossbar.

It was Marcinkowski to the rescue for the Quakes again on the hour after Ricardo Pepi and Jesus Ferreira combined in a spectacular passage of play inside the box. Brandon Servania played a ball into open space going out of the box, Pepi raced on to the pass and spotted Jesus Ferreira’s run with a back heel. Ferreria took a touch and turn to make Judson overrun the ball, held off the challenge of Tanner Beason, and flicked towards the top corner only for Marcinkowski to get a fingertip to the ball.

The game had been calling for an FCD change, and it was Szabolcs Schon arriving in the 67th minute. Jader Obrian had been getting in great positions, and had two fantastic chances, but his execution with the shot and pass had been off all evening. Paxton Pomykal soon followed Obrian to the bench with Andres Ricaurte getting into the game.

Eduardo ‘Chofis’ Lopez hadn’t featured much to this point, but took part in a most bizarre sequence. The former Chivas midfielder almost scored an Olimpico with a 77th minute corner, only to be denied by team mate Jackson Yueill. The USMNT midfielder tussled with Andres Ricaurte on a back post run, before heading the ball clear off the line when it looked set to tuck inside Phelipe’s back post.

Apologies for the caption, it’s the only video I can find of the corner.

Despite making two changes a while after Cade Cowell had subbed in for San Jose, Luchi didn’t seem to have an answer with Justin Che beginning to struggle with both Cowell’s speed and cramp.

FC Dallas used its third opportunity to make a substitution to bring Bryan Acosta on for Brandon Servania. Justin Che went down after the third change, but before play resumed. That meant the final sub window was still open, allowing Nkosi Tafari to check in to the game albeit three minutes after the Acosta sub.

Dallas still chased the lead. Pepi almost went one-on-one but for a last second intervention in the back line. That created a chance for Schon, whose shot was blocked.

Ema Twumasi had a simply fantastic game at left back, but the Ghanaian may have saved his best moment for stoppage time with a game-saving interception. Cade Cowell broke down the left with Tafari up the field having seen his pass go out for a throw. With Tafari attempting to catch up, Cowell made his way past Matt Hedges, looking for Benji Kikanovic. Twumasi, cut the ball out with a sliding challenge ahead of the unmarked Kikanovic.

“I think it’s a great story… He had a heart condition that kept them out for two months, and not just kept him out of soccer training. He couldn’t even jog. He wasn’t allowed by the doctors to jog for two months. So no mobility. He lost muscle mass. He lost fitness. He lost confidence. He’s been working and working, and it took another two months to get him going. And here he is having a performance like tonight.”

Luchi Gonzalez on Ema Twumasi’s year

Dallas will be happy to avoid defeat in a game played at such a relentless pace, but the one home game in that six from seven on the road sequence needed to be three points for FC Dallas’ playoff chances.

2 Comments

  1. Dallas’ set piece defending is awful. They continually get beat in 1v1 situations. I know some people absolutely hate zonal marking but when it is clear your players continually get beat in a man marking system you need to change the system and at least go to a hybrid zonal-man marking set up.

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