FC Dallas, Atlanta United can’t be separated in entertaining tie

FC Dallas and Atlanta United played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in the final game before the international break. Fittingly the Dallas Burn Retro night saw the 500th regular season goal at Toyota Stadium for FC Dallas.

“We weren’t able to take control of the game with our possession tonight,” said FC Dallas head coach, Nico Estevez. “We didn’t do a good job keeping and moving the ball around, then in the final third we rushed too much. Our play needs to be calmer and more composed so that we can make the right decisions, because the spaces to attack were there.”

Between rotation and suspension, Nico Estevez made a staggering nine changes from the 2-1 defeat to St. Louis.

FC Dallas Burn welcomed back Jesus Ferreira from illness, as he went straight in to the starting lineup pairing Alan Velasco up front.

The midfield was all-change as Paul Arriola and Bernard Kamungo got the nod on the flanks. The team’s two deadline day signings, Liam Fraser and Asier Illarramendi, each got their first start.

A rest for Nkosi Tafari as Sebastien Ibeagha paired with Jose Martinez in the back line, with Marco Farfan and Geovane Jesus flanking. Jimmy Maurer got the start in goal with Maarten Paes suspended.

Early starts are nice! Dallas cleared out some threatening Atlanta play in and around their box to Alan Velasco. The Argentine lifted the ball into the path of Paul Arriola’s run on the right wing. Arriola advanced the ball before attempting to feed Jesus Ferreira down the right side of the Atlanta box. What should have been a routine marshaling job for Miles Robinson saw his USMNT team mate stop the ball on the end line, before pulling the ball back to Arriola for a simple finish in the 4th minute. The goal was Arriola’s first since October of last year.

Geovane Jesus has a habit of going through the wars in games. In the opening minutes he was bundled into his own goal attempting to head a cross clear close to the goal line. Around the 20th minute the Brazilian had a coming together at the other end with Giorgos Gialoumakis where the Dallas full back went the ATL forward’s back and landed on his head. A living Crash Test Dummies reference for Retro Burn Night!

Ferreira came inches from doubling the lead in the 37th minute, combining again with Paul Arriola. The 28-year-old played a low ball from the right into the corridor of uncertainty between center back and keeper, that Ferreira somehow got in ahead to reach the ball. Despite some quick feet to take a touch and stab it towards goal from within the six yard box, the Dallas striker could only hit the outside of the post.

Atlanta played some really nice possession football, particularly the front four or Thiago Almada, Giorgos Giakoumakis, Amar Sejdic, and Saba Lobjanidze. Dallas did well to prevent that possession turning into real chances.

Alan Velasco played easily the best game of his Dallas career against Leo Messi, and he may have been trying to impress another Argentine World Cup winner while coming up against Thiago Almada. The new Albiceleste call-up saw a fantastic effort tipped over the bar by Brad Guzan.

It took a neat ball from Almada to bring Atlanta level in the 45th minute. Brooks Lennon found Almada in open space in the attacking third, and the World Cup winner looped a cross in for Giorgos Giakoumakis. The former Celtic forward towered over Sebas Ibeagha to head in his 13th goal of the season.

Neither side really created anything for the opening 10 minutes of the half, but Atlanta United took the lead really out of nothing in the 57th minute. Santiago Sosa pumped a long ball to switch play from left to right. Saba Lobjanidze took the ball down, advanced under no pressure, and eventually swept home a low effort from outside the box that settled inside Jimmy Maurer’s back post.

That lead didn’t even last five minutes, and again came from nothing. Jose Martnez sent a long ball out of the back line that evaded the Five Stripes’ defense. Bernie Kamungo managed to beat the advancing Brad Guzan to poke the ball over and in, but the Tanzanian tumbled over the former USMNT keeper and had to be stretchered off with a sprained AC joint, or as it used to be called – a separated shoulder.

“For me, I need that time to recover so I can get back on the field as soon as I can,” said Kamungo. “It’s great having this week off, it helps us get ready for the next game.”

Eugene Ansah was the replacement sub on the left, but it was his right winger that almost gave Dallas the lead in the 67th minute. Jesus Ferreira broke forward down the right. He held his run up, almost certainly for Ansah’s run to the far post, but then Ferreira poked the ball between the defenders to the front post for Arriola to burst through, but he couldn’t get the shot on target.

Ansah got his chance in the 73rd minute from the edge of the area. The Ghanaian dragged his shot horribly wide after Alan Velasco found him unmarked after breaking down the right wing.

FC Dallas thought they took a deserved lead in the 76th minute with another Jesus Ferreira assist. Marco Farfan initially pulled a cross across goal that Alan Velasco wasn’t able to get to. Velasco was able to chase the ball back to the touchline and pulled it back to Ferreira. FCD’s leading scorer powered a cross to the far post that Farfan crashed, but he was found to be offside on review.

It took all the way until the 79th minute for Nico Estevez to make his first unforced change. Paxton Pomykal came in for Liam Fraser, who had been largely anonymous through the game. He went back to the bench again in the 86th minute. Sebastian Lletget and Dante Sealy replaced Alan Velasco and Paul Arriola.

Both sides tried to steal two points late on. Eugene Ansah had yet another incident of the ball getting caught under his feet in the box, and came agonizingly close with a header. Sebastien Ibeagha made an incredible box-to-box recovery run to make a tackle and win a goal kick. Jimmy Maurer nearly got caught in possession with an Atlanta player deflecting his pass in the box.

A highly entertaining game but only a point at home in a week where most of the clubs vying for those last playoff spots failed to win. Dallas returns to action after the international break, on September 16 at home to Seattle.

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