Toyota Stadium saw visits from a Super Bowl winning head coach, a $100m Galactico, and a World Cup winner as visiting coach, but it was a 17-year-old who stole the headlines at the death.
Andy Reid and Eden Hazard weren’t subjected to a glowing endorsement of what MLS has to offer as FC Dallas and Montreal Impact played out an uninspired opening hour, before a roller-coaster final 30 minutes which saw former Huntsman Maxi Urruti grab a brace only for the Hoops to respond late on.
FC Dallas named an unchanged lineup from the 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union with Thierry Henry forced into a single change from the Impact’s opening day win over New England. The Frenchman’s former Barcelona teammate, Bojan, picked up an injury after traveling to Dallas, with Anthony Jackson-Hamel leading the line in his place.
FC Dallas struggled to break down Montreal’s compressed 5-4-1 with the best of the first half chances coming from through balls played over the top for Michael Barrios. Zdenek Ondrasek was the first to send Barrios over the top in the 19th minute. Barrios cut the ball back and laid off to Jesus Ferreira, but the Homegrown’s shot was comfortably saved by Clement Diop.
As with the opening game, there was a disconnect in the final third as Ferreira struggled to deal with Montreal’s increased numbers at the back. Ondrasek had been afforded plenty of space on the ball against Philadelphia, but Montreal made the extra defender count, with Joel Waterman tightly man-marking Kobra. The Czech looked certain to give Dallas the lead early in the second half running on to a sublime pass from Barrios only for Waterman to redirect the shot for a corner.
That was about as good as it got for a while for the hosts. Within minutes former Dallas striker Maxi Urruti had the ball in the back of the net. A cross came in from deep with Orji Okwonkwo heading off the post to leave Urruti with an empty net. The Argentine forward did not break out the familiar archer celebration against his former side.
“It’s different now, because I’m happy to score but I respect the fans. I lived here, I played here for the club, and after we take focus for the next thing.”Maxi Urruti
There was more disappointment for the home side minutes later with the first VAR review of the 2020 season. Two defenders came together in the Montreal box, with the ball hitting an arm in what is considered incidental contact under the new handball standards.
If they say bad things happen in threes, the ten-minute spell for FC Dallas certainly capped things off with Urruti’s second goal. Zachary Brault-Guillard cuts the ball back, which takes a horrible deflection off Santiago Mosquera leaving Urruti with a simple finish.
Yet again, FC Dallas came alive late on but it didn’t take a formation change this week. Ricardo Pepi came into an attack that had already added Paxton Pomykal and Santiago Mosquera. Ondrasek finally escaped the clutches of Waterman in the 84th minute, meeting the early cross from Reggie Cannon to score his second goal of the season.
“[Playing against a back five] is a little harder, of course, because there are more defenders against me. If you play fast, if you play on the ground, it doesn’t really matter but we had two chances today to make early cross or go for the goal.”Zdenek “Kobra” Ondrasek
As FC Dallas began to pepper the Montreal box looking for any openings, another cross found its way to result in Luchi Gonzalez’s team rescuing a point in the 6th minute of stoppage time. This time it was Barrios with a low driven cross. Ondrasek attempted to redirect it towards goal, finding Pepi at the back post to slam home his first FC Dallas goal.
The draw leaves Dallas unbeaten but far from 100% going into a tough six-week stretch largely on the road, and partly without Reggie Cannon, Paxton Pomykal, and Jesus Ferreira. The trio will join up with the U-23 national team for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament after next week’s game away to New York City FC.
“It’s kind of a sensitive topic, just because of the senior national team and the Olympics. People are questioning what I’m gonna go, but I can safely say that my role I know is with the Olympics…Gregg [Berhalter] has reached out to me and he’s told me what my role is going to be with the 23s and I want to be a leader on the field.”Reggie Cannon