Late drama in Frisco, but far from a happy ending

FC Dallas came into what the two coaches had billed as a Homegrown derby, but one thing was for certain, it was a must-win game for Dallas to kickstart its season after the customary hot start fell by the wayside to a single win – against a Portland reserve team – in the opening five games.

While Dallas ended the night still unbeaten at home, a late goal conceded leaves Dallas with only that asterisk-marked win and a long way from Fortess Frisco with three teams claiming points in the first quarter of the home schedule.

Being back at home meant a return to a back four as was discussed on the podcast this week. Bressan dropped to the bench as Matt Hedges paired Jose Martinez ahead of the returning Jimmy Maurer. Phelipe sustained an injury late in the week, joining Kyle Zobeck on the sidelines. This promoted Colin Shutler from North Texas SC to the first team bench via a short term loan.

“We wanted Acosta higher up the field to pressure the ball. Tanner sitting a little bit more, pivoting, protecting the center backs. So for the most part I thought it was it was positive.”

Luchi Gonzalez on the decision to switch Tanner Tessmann and Bryan Acosta.

The midfield trio carried on but with Tanner Tessmann playing as the lone 6 with Luchi Gonzalez looking to take advantage of Bryan Acosta’s excellent recent play to get the attack started. Franco Jara continued the start, flanked by Jader Obrian and the returning Freddy Vargas.

The rain seemed to catch a few players out early on, who maybe should have picked the soft ground boots with the wet field causing a few slips including RSL keeper David Ochoa.

FC Dallas got its customary early chance through a 5th minute Andres Ricaurte corner. The set piece found Ryan Hollingshead with the ball seemingly gliding off Hollingshead’s boot into the path of Jader Obrian, but the Colombian couldn’t keep his shot down.

The Hoops may have earned their first entry of the year in the When Playing It Out Of The Back Goes Wrong Twitter account. Bryan Acosta won the ball in the defensive third and passed back to Matt Hedges under heavy pressure. Hedges, trying to clear the ball up the line, only manages to cannon the ball off Acosta’s back before finding Nick Besler with his second attempt. Besler squared the ball to Rubio Rubin who turned and shot low into Jimmy Maurer’s far corner to give RSL a 20th minute lead.

Andres Ricaurte’s finest moment in a Dallas shirt thus far was that heavily deflected goal against Houston, and he almost replicated it eight minutes later. After Ochoa spilled a gather on a searching ball for Ryan Hollingshead, some pinball in the box ended with Jader Obrian heading the ball down into the path of Ricaurte. The midfielder’s half volley took a deflection as it came close to Ochoa’s right post. Matt Hedges forced a fantastic reaction save off the following corner, and Freddy Vargas forced a further save moments later from a long shot as Dallas searched for an equalizer.

The Luchi-ball numbers were certainly on the cards for Dallas, with two-thirds of the possession but the team’s best chance came on a counter attack. Ryan Hollingshead brought the ball up up the left wing, feeding Vargas on the edge of the area. The Venezuelan winger attempted to cut back into a crowd of red shirts. Somehow the ball squeezed through to find Bryan Acosta on the far side. The Honduran struck the ball left footed with power, but Ochoa managed to force the ball high, barely clearing the crossbar.

Dallas got its deserved reply shortly before the half from the penalty spot. An Acosta corner found Andres Ricaurte, whose touch evaded him in the box. Jader Obrian reacted first to the loose ball but Marcelo Silva came through the back of the Dallas winger for an obvious PK call. Franco Jara stepped up and sent Ochoa the wrong way for his first goal of the season.

On the back of breaking his duck for the year, Jara went on a tear trying to force Dallas into the lead. First off a shot from the top of the D that Ochoa managed to slip around the post, before his second attempt at a bicycle kick. The first resulted in a corner, the second was a rebound off an Ochoa save that the US U-23 stopper was able to recover to make a second save.

“I feel like he’s had some good performances and been unfortunate to not get his goal. I’m really happy that he got his goal tonight, and you know how it works with nines. They just need that first goal and things open up. I’m very confident he’s going to start finding the the back of the net more often as he continues to show the energy, the movement and the hunger that he showed tonight.”

Luchi Gonzalez on Franco Jara

This was the attacking brand of soccer that had been missing with FC Dallas outshooting Real Salt Lake 12-1 since Rubin’s goal.

The captain almost added to his GOAT status ten minutes into the half. As FC Dallas recycled the ball following an unsuccessful corner, Matt Hedges had stayed forward until Jader Obrian laid the ball into his path some 30 yards out. Hedges let fly barely missing the top left corner of Ochoa’s goal.

Jara, in easily his best outing in an FC Dallas jersey, looked energized and focused. An off the ball run found the Argentine striker well placed to almost put Dallas ahead in the 73rd minute. Andres Ricaurte drilled a cross-field pass along the ground to Bryan Acosta on the Dallas right. Acosta spotted Jara lightly guarded in the RSL area and floated a cross in. Jara stepped outside and inside the defender to create space, but narrowly missed off a curling effort.

“I feel happy to have scored. I hope to be able to catch a streak and continue this form. I mainly want to help my team and help the team find the confidence to keep moving forward for the next few games.”

Franco Jara through a translator.

Coming in to the final 20 minutes Luchi went to his bench for the second time after bringing in Bressan for Jose Martinez. Paxton Pomykal replaced Freddy Vargas and almost immediately had a shot from a great position blocked by Justen Glad.

Eddie Munjoma’s touch maps seemingly had a wall in the final third. The Homegrown broke through that, almost leading to a goal in a stunning passage of play. Tanner Tessmann found the former SMU full back creeping up to the corner of the RSL area. Munjoma cut back to Paxton Pomykal, who directed the ball towards Jara in the area. The former Pachuca man dummied the pass, leaving it to the unmarked Andres Ricaurte. Ricaurte hit the low cross from the right with the ball bouncing off Ochoa and into the path of Jader Obrian as the pair fell on each other along with Marcelo Silva but the referee pointed in favor of the visitors.

Ryan Hollingshead boosted Toyota Stadium with a sublime 84th minute finish. Bressan found Hollingshead with a long pass out to the left touchline, before squaring it to Pomykal in the RSL area. Hollingshead took the ball back, bursting between two defenders into the box before smashing the box high into the net from a tight angle.

As much as Dallas deserved the lead, it would only last two minutes, as a long looping cross from deep on the Salt Lake right found the head of an unmarked Damir Kreilach to level the score. Questions will certainly be asked as both center backs tracked the same player, leaving Munjoma to pick up the ever-dangerous Kreilach as well as Silva.

Luchi had Szabolcs Schon and Edwin Cerrillo prepped to enter the game before the goal, but pulled the latter with no lead left to defend. Schon only had time to amount a single touch.

“I think there’s moments that we’ve got to realize it’s not about the stats at some point, it’s about you manage the situation with street smarts and in savvy. That includes myself. We’re trying to get a sub there after we scored and we we needed to make those subs but we didn’t get to do it. They actually scored when we didn’t get to make those last two subs. So how do we manage that next time? How do we learn from that?”

Luchi Gonzalez on the late substitution and the potential impact on RSL’s tying goal.

The Huntsmen pushed forward for the final minutes but to no avail as yet another win escaped their grasp at what was once Fortress Frisco.

An opening day rematch in Colorado awaits next week before the international break and a tough run of games highlighted by Eastern Conference leaders New England and both LA sides.

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