Loons ease past Dallas on Decision Day

We’ve done the math, a draw was enough to seal fourth and a win with some help could have achieved second place. FC Dallas topped Major League Soccer’s form table after a rare away win in midweek, but Allianz Field isn’t a favored venue with defeats in both previous visits.

As usual Buzz nailed the lineup prediction after Jimmy Maurer hit the injury report yesterday with a quad injury. Luchi Gonzalez turned to Brazil U-23 international Phelipe for his FC Dallas debut between the sticks.

Santiago Mosquera returned off the bench earlier in the week against Nashville and made the starting lineup in place of Johnny Nelson, with Ryan Hollingshead dropping to his usual left back spot.

Ryan Hollingshead was the central figure to three Minnesota chances in the space of two minutes. First, a foul on Romain Metanire led to an Emanuel Reynoso free kick skimming the top of the crossbar. Reynoso had another shot moments later as a cross came through, with Hollingshead getting his body in the way of the shot.

The third would lead to the opening goal as a poor pass back towards Bressan was intercepted by Robin Lod. The Finn squared the ball to Reynoso, who directed it to Kevin Molino for a low drive past Phelipe.

After attempting to find an opening in the back line, Matt Hedges chipped a ball into midfield that Ricardo Pepi flicked over the Minnesota defenders for Michael Barrios to run on to. The Colombian lifted the ball over the head of Dayne St. Clair only to see Brent Kallman to catch up and head the ball off the line onto the crossbar.

Video Assistant Referee, Younes Marrakchi, took a long look as the Loons waited to take a corner. Kallman seemed to head the ball forward onto the underside of the bar but a conclusive angle wasn’t available to show whether the ball crossed the line.

Kallman came to Minnesota’s rescue again after Andres Ricaurte found Barrios wide open on the right. Barrios drove a low cross looking for Ricardo Pepi to tap in with the United defender just doing enough to put the ball of of Pepi’s reach.

Seven minutes before the break, Thiago Santos had his best chance since joining FCD as the team maintained pressure off its first corner. Santiago Mosquera attempted to float a cross to Matt Hedges only for a defender to head away into the Brazilian’s path. Santos stabbed at the ball, cannoning it off the crossbar.

Dallas has a bad habit of giveaways leading to goals at Allianz Field and it didn’t even take a minute for the Loons to punish another one after the restart. Bryan Reynolds played a pass up the right to Michael Barrios. His touch back to Andres Ricaurte was heavy, reaching Molino. Molino laid the ball off to Finley, who squared the ball across the edge of the box for Reynoso to curl inside Phelipe’s left post.

“Yeah, [deflating is] the perfect word for it. We ended the half on the front foot, we were doing well. Then we come out and that happens. Deflating is a good word for it. I mean, we had put in all the work to get to try to get back into it, then we go down two-zero right away. It’s just frustrating.”

Matt Hedges on the giveaways that handed Minnesota the win

Franco Jara and Fafa Picault returned from a pair of knocks to make the bench, and Luchi Gonzalez went to them just seven minutes into the half in place of Santiago Mosquera and Jesus Ferreira.

As FC Dallas attempted to ignite its attack, Minnesota countered the changes with a low block.

Phelipe had recorded two saves in the first half, albeit both gentle pick-ups. The debutant made a big stop on the hour as Minnesota broke down the field from a Dallas attack. Reynoso released Metanire down the right. The Frenchman broke through a Matt Hedges tackle as the ball rebounded to Robin Lod. Lod played in Molino with a clear opportunity in space, but Phelipe came off his line with an outstanding tackle.

From an outstanding tackle to a clumsy one. Jan Gregus and Thiago Santos came together with the former slipping to the ground as he shot. Santos attempted to step over Gregus – crucially for the purpose of a check on a possible red card, not looking down and showing possible intent – as his cleats catch the Minnesota midfielder’s head.

With 15 minutes to save a home playoff, Dallas picked up with a high press. Ryan Hollingshead was unlucky not to halve Minnesota’s lead as a Matt Hedges header fell to the left back, whose volley slammed the post. Moments later Ricardo Pepi misdirected a front post header from a Fafa Picault cross.

Dallas’ desperation would be their undoing as Minnesota United grabbed a third goal on a cleared Picault cross. Robin Lod advanced down the right, easily side-stepping a weak Bressan tackle. Lod found Reynoso with a pass at the edge of the box, who in similar fashion to the opener, set up Kevin Molino’s ninth goal of the season.

With little left to play for but pride, Andres Ricaurte found Ryan Hollingshead with a ball over the top of the MNUFC back line. Hollingshead flicked the ball on and attempted to place the ball into the corner, but St. Clair was able to just get a foot on it to deflect the shot wide.

Fafa Picault had a strong appeal for a penalty at the start of injury time as he appeared to be pulled down by Noah Billingsley after beating the right back off the dribble, but Roberto Sibiga was not interested.

“We’ve had some good momentum the last few games. Got a good away win in Nashville, so we wanted to carry that and be consistent with that. And so our approach was similar. Yeah, we had a few knocks, but we also did at Nashville and there was no reason why we couldn’t come here and get a result. I’m sorry to the fans, I’m sorry to the club that we couldn’t earn ourselves a home game. That was a big objective of ours that we set from the beginning of the season.”

Luchi Gonzalez

The final whistle blew in Saint Paul, but the drama continued as Portland equalized against LAFC to move Dallas back up to fifth, before a late Colorado Rapids winner left Dallas in sixth with a trip to Portland on the horizon for the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

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