FC Dallas celebrated its maiden win of the 2021 season with a strong performance against a weakened Portland Timbers side.
With a single point from the opening two games Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez brought about changes aimed at solving positional disconnect in the opening games. The most obvious change was the switch back to a 4-3-3 shape with Matt Hedges and Jimmy Maurer carrying injuries.
“I think we’ve got things in our pocket that we can use at home, away, against different opponents. I want us to be versatile. I don’t want us to be a one system team. I don’t want players to be very limited to what their positions can be too, right side, left side.”Luchi Gonzalez
Phelipe carried on from closing out the game in San Jose with Bressan and Jose Martinez ahead of him. Ryan Hollingshead switched to left back with Eddie Munjoma making his first MLS start on the right.
Bryan Acosta returned at the 6 with Tanner Tessmann, with Andres Ricaurte completing the midfield. Ricardo Pepi got his first start of the season, with the usual pairing of Freddy Vargas and Jader Obrian out wide.
Head coach Luchi Gonzalez had allayed any fears after an opening game that lacked any Homegrown Players in the starting lineup with the statement that there may be games where five academy products come off the bench. FC Dallas equaled a team record as three Homegrowns started with a further three subbing in through the course of the game.
Portland Timbers coach Gio Savarese had his eyes firmly fixed on a midweek trip to Mexico City after the Timbers tied their CCL quarter final first leg with Club America last week. Savarese made seven changes to his starting XI, with four substitutions at half time to remove three of the four survivors from Wednesday night’s draw.
After a forgettable game in San Jose, Dallas sought to right a few wrongs and did so as soon as the third minute. Ryan Hollingshead advanced down the left wing, playing a quick one-two with Freddy Vargas to bypass Pablo Bonilla. Hollingshead crossed low with Andres Ricaurte racing in to shoot low past Hunter Sulte.
If the assist wasn’t enough, Hollingshead got some measure of payback after being denied by a goal-line clearance in San Jose. A Marvin Loria free kick from the Timbers’ left was chested down by Yimmi Chara for Dario Zuparic to shoot, only for Hollingshead to block the shot inside the six yard box.
After gathering the ball, Phelipe’s long punt down field caught Renzo Zambrano out, leaving Jader Obrian to run through and lift the ball over Sulte to give Dallas a second.
With Phelipe recording the assist, Sulte almost got in on the action minutes later with a kick out of his hands headed on to Yimmi Chara. The younger Chara brother chipped the ball spectacularly over the FCD back line for Felipe Mora to run on to. As Mora approached the edge of the area, Bressan slid in from behind to knock the ball loose with Eddie Munjoma rushing to secure the ball and remove any danger with a clearance up the right wing.
A goal in the third minute was matched with a third goal in the third minute of stoppage time. A Freddy Vargas corner found Jose Martinez. Hulte stopped the Spaniard’s shot with his chest, with Bressan first to react to the rebound for his second career goal for FC Dallas.
Going into half time, Dallas looked confident for the first time in 2021. Whether it was a weakened Portland side, or reverting back to their favored 4-3-3, every pass and run was executed with purpose.
Gio Savarese started the second half with player management in mind, bringing four subs on to replace three of the four players from Wednesday
In the 53rd minute the Timbers had a strong call for a penalty turned down. Marvin Loria played a wide cross from the visitors’ right, Dairon Asprilla headed at goal with the ball clearly deflecting off the hand off Eddie Munjoma before Bressan was able to clear the ball upfield.
The Timbers were outfighting Dallas and came close to getting on the board from a Diego Valeri corner. The set piece came in from the Dallas left, finding Zachery McGraw on the far side of the area. McGraw’s header struck Phelipe’s near post, but the rebound fell kindly for Hollingshead to clear.
Coach Gonzalez went to the bench close to the hour mark with Paxton Pomykal and Johnny Nelson replacing Freddy Vargas and Eddie Munjoma in a move to stymie Portland’s resurgence, but the Timbers soon pulled a goal back.
Eryk Williamson brought the ball out of midfield playing a one-two with Diego Valeri. After making a run through the heart of the FCD defense, Williamson again briefly lent the ball to El Maestro, before finishing low past Phelipe.
The Timbers were certainly stronger by the time Gio Savarese made his fifth substitution. Jeremie Ebobisse made his long awaited return from injury with Portland trying to fight and claw their way back. Speaking of fighting, if you’d expect anyone on the FC Dallas roster to clear a bench, you wouldn’t pick Ryan Hollingshead but the FCD full back did after an incident with the Timbers coach.
“I went to go get the ball off the podium and Gio [Savarese] tossed the ball at the side of my head, but I knew it was coming so I caught it. Then he was just jibber-jabbering and so I thought ‘Oh, I know what I’m gonna do’ so I pump faked him and then threw the ball in.”Ryan Hollingshead
The moment energized Dallas as Hollingshead described as a moment that delivered some bite and personality.
Franco Jara inserted himself in the game, having replaced Ricardo Pepi ten minutes prior as the former Pachuca striker was found by a long ball from Bryan Acosta. A step-over left Zachery McGraw on the ground but he was unable to locate Acosta for a return pass in the area.
Dante Sealy was the final FC Dallas change, as Jader Obrian made way, and the recently-turned 18-year-old put his stamp on the game almost immediately with his first career goal.
Phelipe punched a Portland cross wide, which Andres Ricaurte was able to collect off to the side of the FC Dallas area. Ricaurte found Paxton Pomykal, who threaded a ball down the left for Franco Jara. Jara played a fantastic outside of the boot pass just out of reach of two Portland defenders for Dante Sealy to run on to. Sealy took a touch to set himself up, as the bench cleared to join the celebrations in front of The Rhine.
FC Dallas moves on to the only home Texas Derby of 2021 as Houston Dynamo travels up I-45 for a 2:30pm kick off on Saturday, May 8.