FC Dallas fresh off their second win of the season were looking to build upon the three-points, momentum, and tactical adaptability as they hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps in the highly anticipated Fourth of July match.
FC Dallas fought off what could have been the team’s first home loss of 2021 thanks to a stoppage-time own-goal equalizer. FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps shared two goals each with both teams remaining at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Luchi Gonzalez, not wanting to tamper with a winning formula, kept the same starting lineup from the previous game with Tanner Tessmann being the notable bench absentee. With reports of Tessmann’s impending transfer to recently promoted Serie A side Venecia F.C., Brandon Servania made his first game-day roster since returning from his loan with SKN St. Pölten in the Austrian first division.
“I think we we’re all motivated,” Pepi said of the team’s mood coming into the game. “We started the game with hunger and the team knows that we needed the points so the mood was good.”
Within the first ten minutes, FC Dallas wanted to set the tone by playing a direct yet patient game and created early chances. Johnny Nelson earned a free kick outside of the box but the set-piece wasn’t enough to test Vancouver goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.
Ricardo Pepi, having scored his first brace in MLS, nearly opened the scoring from close range but his efforts were blocked by Crepaue, foreshowing the frustrations that he would provide to the Dallas attack.
The third time was the charm for Pepi as headed in the ball towards goal for FC Dallas’ first goal of the game and first headed goal of the season. Bryan Acosta passed the ball to Jesus Ferreira – making in his third consecutive start – crossed the ball from the right side of the field set up Pepi’s goal in the 22nd minute.
Vancouver, having early success attacking on the counter, created a threatening opportunity against the run of play. Lucas Cavallini took his first shot of the game and capitalized on Bressan’s miss-hit clearance to bring the game level in the 30th minute.
After conceding FC Dallas was shaken and were more cautious with their passing going forward. As the half progressed, FC Dallas started to slowly regain the passing rhythm seen earlier in the game.
“The loss of momentum in the first-half hurt the momentum of the game,” Luchi Gonzalez said of the momentum changes. “We have to learn that even when we lose momentum that we still have to clear balls and defend. We put ourselves in a hole going into the second half. I believe if we had a few more minutes we could’ve won the game.”
Vancouver, building upon the first goal, earned a corner kick that found Andy Rose to give the Canadian visitors the lead just before heading into halftime.
FC Dallas had regressed into a more cautious playstyle that provided Vancouver the time and opportunity to commit numbers up the field. In an effort to regain control of the game, FC Dallas returned to playing a quicker style that emphasized quick passes and off-ball movement.
“Our players are very motivated to give a response,” Gonzalez said. “When we have a loss of momentum, we have to defend well. We showed two different faces and we showed sprite aggressiveness, spirit, and verticality. We are defined how we respond in the next moment. We just needed to give a push.”
As the corner-kick count rose for FC Dallas, Los Toros has not gotten the equalizing goal. Luchi Gonzalez turned to his bench to help give his team the lead and brought in Paxton Pomykal and Dante Sealy for Johnny Nelson and Jader Obrian in the 63rd minute.
These changes moved Ryan Hollingshead to left full-back as Paxton took up the left-wing and Sealy being a direct replacement for Obrian as the right-wing.
The Whitecaps seemed content to sit behind the ball while running out the game clock. Marc Dos Santos brought on on young forward Ryan Raposo in the 71st minute to gain game experience.
“I think we did well on the diagonal switches and isolating guys one-v-one wide,” Paxton said about attacking Vancouver’s low-block. “We did that in the first half and we did that in the second half and that is what was benefiting us and hurting them. The balls were driven and not floated and that’s how we tried to break them down.”
Luchi Gonzalez responded by inserting Franco Jara for Facundo Quignon, in the 75th minute, hoping that the veteran striker could turn the tide for his club.
Andres Ricaurte was introduced to the match for Jesus Ferreira as time was running out for FC Dallas to prevent a loss at home and disappointing the 19,096 fans in attendance.
Lucas Cavallini and Caio Alexandre were replaced by Brian White and Patrick Metcalfe as Dos Santos was on the edge of securing the Whitecaps’ first road win of 2021.
Ranko Veselinovic and Jakob Nerwinski were substituted in for Deiber Caicedo and Javain Brown as Vancouver’s final substitutes of the evening in stoppage time.
Paxton Pomykal played in a cross from the right-side of the fined and Veselinovic gave FC Dallas life with a headed own goal to bring the game level.
The own-goal proved to save FC Dallas from getting their first home loss of 2021 while Vancouver will still be searching for their first road win. FC Dallas earned one point from a 2-2 draw that featured fireworks not just after the match but also on the field.
“It’s a bit of a sweet feeling [the late goal] because we could’ve won the game,” Ricardo Pepi said. “I’m not happy with the result but we have to keep working hard to get the results.”
FC Dallas has 11 points through 11 games and sits 12th in the Western Conference while being just 4 points away from being in playoff contention.
FC Dallas will have little rest as they head to face the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, July 7th at 9:30 PM.