FC Dallas gifted El Capitan back to Houston with an uninspired performance in Houston. The fourth successive away game the team has shipped three goals in ensures the cannon returns to South Texas for the first time since 2017, and all but spells an end for FC Dallas’ playoff hopes in 2021.
“It’s a tough one to swallow because we talked about how we wanted to impose early. We didn’t like the way we started here last time when we tied 2-2 and we had to claw back into the game.”Luchi Gonzalez
Only one change occurred from the midweek draw in New Jersey as Matt Hedges replaced Jose Martinez in the center of defense. It seemed likely that Jimmy Maurer would make his return after making the bench for the 3-3 draw but his recovery from injury had stagnated to the point where Maurer’s been shut down in training.
Dallas were busy in the opening minutes but Houston took a surprise lead in the fifth minute. Fafa Picault dragged Justin Che inside from the left for a give-and-go, with the former FCD winger easily outpacing the young defender. A low ball came across the area with Griffin Dorsey running in unmarked for the easy tap-in at the back post.
Che and Twumasi lost their marks again in the 21st minute as the Dynamo doubled their lead. Dorsey made a run in from the right, laid the ball off to Quintero for a one-two pass that Twumasi failed to react to. The former Toronto FC II midfielder played a simple ball across the box for Picault to finish with Che failing to get goal-side.
FC Dallas struggled to gain any ground after those opening seconds, taking 35 minutes to test backup goalkeeper Michael Nelson through a Brandon Servania effort from outside of the box. They did follow up with a nice spell of one-touch passing to get the ball to the feet of Ricardo Pepi in the Houston box in the 43rd minute. Pepi unfortunately was forced onto his left foot and saw his attempt smothered by Zarek Valentin.
Luchi Gonzalez made a trio of changes at the break. Eddie Munjoma, Bryan Acosta, and Franco Jara came in for Facundo Quignon, Justin Che, and Paxton Pomykal. Dallas moved into a 4-4-2 with Pepi and Jara up top. Jesus Ferreira moved to the left wing, moving inside to overload the midfield any time Munjoma overlapped down the left.
The three subs immediately combined to give Acosta a shot in the Houston box, but that was blocked. A further shot from Acosta’s usual distance blazed over the bar moments later.
The first ten minutes was all Dallas, but Houston broke down and managed to win a penalty. The replays appeared to show Tim Parker stepping on Bryan Acosta, but Darwin Quintero stepped up to tuck the ball barely out of Phelipe’s reach.
It took until the 71st minute to make another change as Andres Ricaurte replaced Brandon Servania. Szabolcs Schon came in for Ema Twumasi seven minutes later. The team looked disinterested, and not at all like they were playing their rivals in a must-win game for the playoff race.
“I know everybody has the right intentions. We don’t have the most vocal vocal group naturally, just based on everyone’s characteristics. We have a pretty vocal staff that tries to model. It’s everybody learning as well.”Luchi Gonzalez on the need for vocal leadership
There was a nearly moment for FC Dallas in the 83rd minute as Jesus Ferreira headed in from a cross, but Franco Jara was caught offside in the build up.
Nearly became finally two minutes later after Jesus Ferreira found Jader Obrian running in behind the Houston back line and playing a neat finish from a wide position.
Obrian had another in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Houston failed to clear a corner, Eddie Munjoma fed the ball out wide to the Colombian who smashed the ball high past Nelson.
The press conference featured a lot of talk of disappointment after 90 minutes of fight. Once again defensive mistakes, and a lack of cohesion give the impression that the fight was more with themselves than the opposition, who enjoyed a quiet night aside from the last ten minutes.
The result leaves Dallas seven points out of the playoffs with eight left to play. The teams sitting seven points ahead also have three and four extra wins – the first tiebreaker in MLS – over FCD as well as two games in hand.
Ema did not lose his mark on either goal. He played both of them correctly. On the first Che got beat which forced Tafari to come out of the middle. Quintero made a smart run to the near post that Twumasi correctly tracked and it was Quintero that Fafa was trying to hit. But Tafari’s deflection redirected the ball past Twumasi into the open space for the easy tap in. No one is really to blame other than Che – sometimes the other team just makes a good play.
On the second, Faco redirected the ball past Twumasi in a way he could not anticipate. Twumasi is in correct position to intercept the pass, he even stops his run because the pass is going to be behind the run. But Faco’s deflection puts it perfectly in the path of Dorsey and it becomes an easy goal.