The last time FC Dallas beat the Colorado Rapids on the road was the penultimate game of the 2014 regular season. While the Rapids went down to ten men in both 2014 and the away finale of 2022, the one-goal scoreline in this one went the hosts’ way as Diego Rubio snuck a second-half winner.
“The line between winning and losing is very thin,” said FC Dallas Head Coach Nico Estevez. “We had chances to not lose the game and also to win the game. We did not convert our chances and that showed in the scoreline. We need to be more ruthless and have more quality to finish games off. This kind of game is a preview of what to expect in the playoffs.”
Dallas went into the game in the knowledge that a win would secure a home playoff game, and leave Nashville at least three points behind in the race for third place in the MLS Western Conference.
Paul Arriola‘s red card against San Jose meant the winger would join Alan Velasco (right quad), Bernard Kamungo (right ankle), Tsiki Ntsabeleng (left ankle), and Franco Jara (left hamstring) on the sideline.
Kalil ElMedkhar got a surprise start on the left wing, opposite Jader Obrian, preserving the midfield pairing of Paxton Pomykal and Sebastian Lletget. Edwin Cerrillo made way for Facundo Quignon to return to the lineup.
The center back pairing was the big question mark as Matt Hedges and Jose Martinez reunited. The bigger shock was Nanu getting a look over Ema Twumasi at right back.
The hosts penned Dallas in well from the start, reducing FC Dallas to long balls on both ends of the field.
One of those in the 23rd minute led to Dallas’ only two open play shots on target. Jose Martinez pumped the ball forward for Jader Obrian to go one-on-one with William Yarbrough. The one-time USMNT keeper made an acrobatic stop but the Colombian was able to recover and take a second shot at the Rapids goal only for Keegan Rosenberry to come up big with a block on the line.
Jesus Ferreira, without his two usual attacking partners, was left to drop deeper in search of the ball. A series of set pieces and one looping effort in the second half that caught the post was as close to that record-breaking 19th goal as America’s striker got.
Colorado was getting forward, albeit without much of a threat.
The goal came from a 66th-minute cut back at the top of the box with six FCD players back in prime position to deal with the attack. Instead, Diego Rubio stepped off Nanu at the back post and swept the ball home from 12 yards out.
Nanu was involved in the game’s other big moment as Gustavo Vallacilla saw red for a late clumsy challenge on the on-loan full back.
Coach Estevez held his center backs up high late in the game to target crosses. Dallas should have had an equalizer as the game moved into stoppage time from a peach of a cross by Lletget. Unfortunately for Dallas, Jose Martinez made a run into the back post but failed to react as the ball passed by within reach for an easy tap-in.
Dallas can still seal a home playoff this weekend should results go their way. More importantly, the focus moves to a Decision Day home game with SKC. Both a chance for Jesus Ferreira to break a team record, and for the team to finish on the right foot rather than stumbling into the postseason.