FC Dallas falls to Nashville in gutsy yet error-laden performance

FC Dallas marked its annual Pride Night with a performance to be proud of, however, the score wasn’t so kind as a late Hany Mukhtar goal sealed the points for Gary Smith’s side.

“The result was not fair,” said Nico Estevez. “We produced a game that should have resulted in a win tonight. We need to focus on capitalizing the chances we have as there were several opportunities that should have ended in a goal and we have to do better.” 

Nico Estevez once again lined his side up in a 4-4-2, making four changes from the team that lost 2-1 to SKC. The challenge for the Spaniard has gone from picking the best players for the job to trying to maintain a healthy XI in this busy mid-season period.

Maarten Paes returned in goal. All three senior center backs got the go-ahead with Sebastien Ibeagha at right back – a position he has played occasionally throughout his career. Jose Martinez was back in the lineup with Nkosi Tafari. Marco Farfan completed the set.

Nolan Norris carried on his starting spell, partnering Facundo Quignon as Edwin Cerrillo served a yellow card suspension. Herbert Endeley got his first MLS start on the right wing, opposite Alan Velasco.

Jader Obrian was up front with Jesus Ferreira.

Another week, another weather delay. Storms rolled through the area delaying the 7:39 pm kickoff to 8 pm. Toyota Stadium didn’t really see any effect, staying dry.

Alan Velasco came inches away from giving Dallas the lead in the third minute. Breaking away down the right, Velasco looked likely to feed Herbert Endeley for the rookie to cross but instead blasted a shot from wide of the box that beat Joe Willis before crashing off the left side post.

A bright start soon gave way in the 9th minute as Nolan Norris attempted to get in the way of a Shaq Moore cross from the Nashville right. The FC Dallas Homegrown was unlucky enough to direct the ball just inside Maarten Paes’ far post and out of the Dutchman’s reach.

The 25th minute brought a response. Alan Velasco took down a cross-field pass from Nkosi Tafari and tried to advance the play centrally with Jesus Ferreira. The Hoops’ striker found Facundo Quignon with a pass on the edge of the area. The Argentine took a touch away from both Alex Muyl and Shaq Moore before slipping the ball through the left side for Marco Farfan to run on to. Jader Obrian crashed the goal, tapping in at the back post.

Dallas wasted a fantastic opportunity to take the lead five minutes later. A poor attempted pass from Walker Zimmerman in midfield went straight to Jesus Ferreira. He and Obrian bore down on the Nashville goal with just Jack Maher between them and Joe Willis in the visiting net. Ferreira took a couple of touches too many – as Maher committed leaving Obrian in space and begging for the pass – giving ample time for the yellow jerseys to catch up.

Ten minutes into the second half, Coach went to his bench for three subs without changing the shape. Sam Junqua replaced Marco Farfan, who had looked worse for wear. Geovane Jesus made his return in place of Sebastien Ibeagha. Endeley took a seat for Jesus Jimenez. Jader Obrian slid out wide for an all-Jesus attack.

Endeley’s pace caused Nashville problems off the ball, but he struggled to get involved in the play. Ibeagha had a few breaks forward from right back. Coach Estevez later admitted it wasn’t so much identifying a vulnerability on the Nashville left as much as reducing minutes to maintain fitness.

Nashville reacted two minutes later by surprisingly pulling Walker Zimmerman in favor of Josh Bauer.

Both sides had half-chances. Jesus Ferreira put a header wide off a Geovane cross. Alex Muyl flashed a low drive barely wide of Paes’ right post. The former Red Bulls midfielder was then immediately replaced by Jacob Shaffelburg, in addition to Randall Leal checking in for former FCD man Fafa Picault.

Dallas started to find its stride with 20 minutes left. Ferreira had a carbon copy of Muyl’s earlier chance. The team was finding the ball in zone 14, immediately in front of the Nashville area. Nolan Norris’ conservative passing grew increasingly adventurous as he worked to put the early disappointment behind him.

That stride soon led to a stumble. Daniel Lovitz intercepted a pass from Nkosi Tafari in the midfield. With Tafari well out of position, Lovitz launched a ball for Hany Mukhtar. Jose Martinez tried to challenge the header but ended up just getting in the way of Tafari’s attempted recovery, leaving the league MVP candidate with a 25-yard run at Paes to put Nashville ahead.

The ball appeared to be controlled on the German’s upper arm, but a VAR check did not recommend a review of the goal.

The 81st minute brought one last change as Bernard Kamungo replaced Nolan Norris. Jesus Ferreira dropped back into the midfield, and eventually, Nkosi Tafari joined the attack as he had in San Jose.

Jesus Ferreira saw a curler from inside the D well held. Tafari came close to getting on the end of a cross from Jesus Jimenez. The center back also had a knockdown header in the box for Jader Obrian to crash home, only for a Nashville defender to make an acrobatic clearance.

Nashville saw two chances saved and blocked. Referee Pierre-Luc Lauziere didn’t have the finest of evenings for either side, verging on incompetence late in the game. His highlight may have been not understanding that the 10-yard mark at the corners is an arc, forcing four Dallas players in a vertical line adjacent to the sideline as FC Dallas attempted to place four players ready for Nashville to keep the ball in the corner.

Next up is a strange scenario for Dallas on Wednesday as St. Louis comes to town to finish off the final 40 minutes of the previously postponed game.

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