FC Dallas moved on to the round of 16 in the Leagues Cup, getting by Liga MX side Mazatlan FC thanks to goals from Alan Velasco and Eugene Ansah.
“I think we started off the game with the right intensity and the right mindset,” said Jesus Ferreira. “We knew it was going to be hot, we knew it was going to be a long game. I think overall the team handled business and we kept pushing until we could score the second goal and finish out the game.”
After Inter Miami recorded a 3-1 win over Orlando City, the South Florida outfit will travel to Frisco for what will be the first away game for former Barcelona trio Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba.
There were three changes to the starting lineup from the 3-0 win over Necaxa. Two of those came in the back line as Nkosi Tafari returned to partner Jose Martinez. Marco Farfan didn’t make the gameday roster with a minor knock in training, as Sam Junqua stepped in to play opposite Geovane Jesus. Maarten Paes between the sticks.
Edwin Cerrillo had a strong performance last week but rotated back out for Facundo Quignon to start behind the double eights, Sebastian Lletget and Alan Velasco. Reports later emerged that Cerrillo was to be traded to LA Galaxy, which may explain that decision.
The front three remained in place with Jesus Ferreira leading the line, flanked by Bernard Kamungo and Jader Obrian.
With the potential prize a match with Leo Messi, another Argentine playmaker made the first impression as Alan Velasco blasted a shot off the crossbar in the fourth minute.
Another Argentine led to Mazatlan’s first attack. Facundo Quignon played a pass back to Nkosi Tafari behind the center back allowing former Minnesota United forward Luis Amarilla to make a run at goal. Tafari caught up to make the tackle and give the visitors an early corner.
Quignon redeemed himself in the 15th minute, threading a ball between the Mazatlan center backs for Bernie Kamungo to run onto, but the Tanzanian slipped as he shot and the ball rolled wide. The defensive midfielder found Jesus Ferreira running through a few minutes later, but the Homegrown couldn’t break free of his marker and saw an attempt at a lob easily held.
Mazatlan really struggled in possession at the back, putting a few passes out for throws. Facundo Almada completely coughed up the ball to Jader Obrian in the box in the 30th minute. Obrian quickly cycled the ball to Jesus Ferreira. The Dallas striker saw a shot blocked with Kamungo open in a better position. Eager to correct that, he snatched possession as Sebastian Lletget looked to get the loose ball under control leading to another blocked shot.
Not content with just putting in a couple of nice passes, Quignon almost gave Dallas the lead with a 40th minute header. From a Jesus Ferreira corner, the 30-year-old seemed to make contact with the back of his head leaving Ricardo Gutierrez scrambling down to his right to palm the ball away. He could only find the feet of Sebastian Lletget, but the former LA Galaxy man was flagged offside.
The second half started with a bang as Bernie Kamungo won a penalty just 22 seconds in. After running onto a mishit back pass by Lucas Merolla, Kamungo raced down the right before going down under light contact from Merolla. A grab at the arm and a shove in the back was enough to satisfy referee Oshane Nation and the Video Assistant Referee. Alan Velasco didn’t waste Dallas’ first chance from the spot in 470 days since a US Open Cup win over Tulsa, hammering the ball down the middle to put FCD up in the 48th minute.
Five minutes later Dallas had the ball in the net again as Jader Obrian finished off a Lletget pass only to see the linesman’s flag rightly raised.
After a lengthy injury delay Mezatlan struck back with their first real chance of the game in the 58th minute. Jose Martinez missed recovering a loose ball down the Dallas left side. Amarilla ran the ball before crossing low for the run of an unmarked Andres Montano.
Obrian immediately hit back, sliding in to poke home a Ferreira cross only to once again see the flag raised. On replay it looked like the Colombian was level with the last defender, but not clearly enough for VAR to intervene.
Nico Estevez is like clockwork with his subs, and it was a trio of changes in the 64th minute. Jose Martinez departed for Sebastien Ibeagha, Bernard Kamungo came off for Eugene Ansah, and Obrian took a seat for Paul Arriola. All three were like-for-like swaps.
Two of the subs combined for Dallas’ next chance, Paul Arriola winning a corner that Eugene Ansah met at the front post to hammer off the crossbar right before the hydration break in the 70th minute.
Amarilla should have threatened Maarten Paes’ goal, capitalizing on a poor touch by Sebastien Ibeagha. Paes made himself big, reducing Amarilla to a tight angle before knocking the ball out of play.
“It felt amazing to score the goal tonight,” said Eugene Ansah. “When I’m on the bench I look forward to scoring and making an impact when I come in because when you’re sitting there as a player you want to prove yourself. Tonight I wanted to come into the game to push the team and help contribute.”
The Arriola-Ferreira-Ansah connection paid off moments later in the 76th minute. Arriola recovered a loose ball in the Mazatlan box, pulled it back for a first time cross from Jesus Ferreira that was drilled to the back post for Eugene Ansah to head in from close range.
Paxton Pomykal continued his return, replacing Sebastian Lletget immediately after the goal.
Arriola forced a corner, making a great run to beat the line of offside. The goal kick that soon followed was sent straight down field with Jose Maduena running clear down the Mexican side’s right wing before attempting to find the feet of Alan Medina. Cue the customary big Paes moment as the Dutchman slid out to steal the ball off the foot of the Mazatlan winger.
A second uncharacteristic moment for Ferreira came as the game ticked into the final ten minutes. With a defender to beat, Alan Velasco attempting to make space on his left, and Eugene Ansah clear on the right, Ferreira attempted to turn the defender twice before firing the ball into his shins.
Coach made a final change in the 87th minute as Tsiki Ntsabeleng replaced Velasco.
Maarten Vincent Paes once again lived up to his initials, with a phenomenal double-save moments after the substitution. Some quick play around Dallas’ 18-yard box saw Montano produce a snap shot from within the D that Paes got low to push away,. The ball fell invitingly to the feet of Amarilla close to goal, with another low reaction save before smothering the ball, Paes eventually won a free kick to preserve Dallas’ lead.
The Burn kept putting the ball in dangerous spots but couldn’t threaten the Mazatlan goal again. The visitors couldn’t break through Dallas’ low block, as the final minutes played out. A 20 minute wait began to find out Sunday’s opponents after the Inter Miami v Orlando City game was delayed by inclement weather. Ultimately it would be a Messi brace that sets the circus in motion for Sunday in Frisco.