FC Dallas earned only its sixth point on the road in 2020, but they and Real Salt Lake will spend their next video session wondering exactly how the game finished scoreless.
Real Salt Lake were expected to miss Albert Rusnak for a 10-day quarantine period following his appearance for Slovakia on the 14th, however after rushing the attacking midfielder back to the States they were able to complete the quarantine earlier in the day.
Luchi Gonzalez restored Thiago Santos and Michael Barrios to the starting line-up, although Matt Hedges had to settle for a place on the bench following his hamstring injury.
“It would have been really high risk to start him [Hedges]. We knew we could play him for 20 to 30 minutes, and so that was the decision based on medical support. But he came in and he helped us obviously.”Luchi Gonzalez on Matt Hedges starting from the bench
Real Salt Lake was eager to get straight to business after a 10-day rest. Albert Rusnak spread the ball out right to Aaron Herrera in the 8th minute. Douglas Martinez caught Bryan Reynolds ball watching and runs in behind the full back to receive the cross at the back post, but he hits the post with Jimmy Maurer rooted to the spot.
Dallas struggled through the first half but saw the team’s best chance of the game come early as a Reto Ziegler free kick goes deep. Bressan broke away from his marker to get a shot off. Attempting to cushion the ball over the keeper’s head, the Brazilian couldn’t keep the ball down and hit the crossbar.
RSL nearly caught the Dallas back line out with some wonderful combination play at the edge of the area culminating in Maikel Chang chipping the ball to his left to find Corey Baird beating the offside line. The RSL Homegrown shot low first-time but Jimmy Maurer produced his first save of the game to keep Dallas level.
The woodwork saw more action than either keeper in the first half hour, coming to Dallas’ rescue again as Pablo Ruiz smashed a long shot after the FC Dallas defense held up a counter attack forcing Martinez out wide. With the ball cut back to Ruiz outside the area, the Argentine wound up and walloped a shot off the crossbar that Ryan Hollingshead would clear out for a throw in.
RSL were firmly on the front foot and almost forced an opening as Ruiz played a smart ball over the Dallas defense with outside of the foot to the head of Damir Kreilach, forcing a reaction save of Maurer.
As the clock approached stoppage time, Dallas almost found its way on the scoreboard off another Reto Ziegler set piece. The ball fell to Ryan Hollingshead, who laid off to Franco Jara in a great spot. Jara attempted Dallas’ second shot – compared to RSL’s 18 first half shots – but saw the effort blocked shortly before the referee blew for the half.
“They took initiative in the first half. We were a bit fortunate, but you create that fortune with making plays, and defensively we had guys step up in the backline and our goalkeeper helped keep us in the game. I thought we reacted better after the first 20-30 minutes. We created a few chances ourselves, but I don’t think we reached or found more of our game until the second half when we were able to control spaces a little bit better defensively.”
Luchi Gonzalez made a half time change with Fafa Picault replacing Jesus Ferreira on the wing, and pushed the team up to press higher with the added pace. The move seemed to pay off as Dallas doubled its shot total in the first ten minutes, while largely keeping the game out of the defensive half. Freddy Juarez in turn dropped his side into a low block to frustrate the Huntsmen.
Although Dallas’ play improved, it still took an hour to force Andrew Putna into a save. Thiago Santos plays a long low pass into Franco Jara, with the striker feeding Michael Barrios out wide. The Colombian made his way into the Salt Lake area, attempting the shot inside Putna’s near post.
With the score even and 20 minutes left, Luchi Gonzalez opted to bring Matt Hedges in for his return. Hedges replaced Andres Ricaurte to move the team into a 3-4-3.
Despite improving their play, the visitors were giving up the better chances. Kreilach curled the ball around a crowded defense but grazed the outside of the post.
Hedges played the hero a few minutes later as Jeizon Ramirez plays a low cross with two free RSL attackers in the middle, but the team’s longest-serving player is able to turn the cross away.
“We definitely need to play better and we’ll keep working towards that, but we battled hard and came away with a deserve a point on the road.”Jimmy Maurer
Dallas did finally test Putna in the RSL goal in the 87th minute as Michael Barrios forced the 25-year-old keeper into a kick save after receiving a trademark cross-field ball from Tanner Tessmann, but the story was really about wasteful opportunities as only five of the teams’ 32 combined shots found the target.