Pepi and Ferreira paint Austin Roja

FC Dallas made its first trip to the outskirts of the state capital, stretching its run to four unbeaten on the road and earning a second away win of the season. First half braces from Ricardo Pepi and Jesus Ferreira powered Dallas past the MLS new-boys among a woeful defensive display that crumbled under Dallas’ press.

The next man up mentality is strong in Dallas and it needed to be. Paxton Pomykal was still out with a sprained knee, Bryan Acosta served a yellow card suspension, Jimmy Maurer came down with a knock in the week.

Luchi Gonzalez was forced into three of the four changes from his starting XI in Houston. Phelipe got the start in goal, Matt Hedges returned to start in place of Bressan after the AC joint injury sustained at BBVA Stadium. Brandon Servania made his first start since early November. Freddy Vargas was the only coaches decision with Jader Obrian returning to the lineup.

The new-boys nearly got caught out with the only player in verde – goalkeeper Brad Struver – attempting to play out from the back from a goal kick. After conceding a corner in the second minute, Austin didn’t learn their lesson as Ricardo Pepi robbed the ball off Stuver’s foot, leaving Jesus Ferreira to finish between the legs of the Austin keeper to give Dallas a fifth minute lead.

The goal served as a wake up call. Sebastian Driussi forced a strong save from Phelipe, and Diego Fagundez forced a corner from a Nkosi Tafari block. As pleasant as some of Austin’s play had been, their equalizer came from some equally poor defending as Ferreira’s opener.

Zan Kolmanic crossed from deep on the left, Julio Cascante met the ball at the back post unmarked after staying up field following a set piece. Szabolcs Schon followed the run but not closely enough, seeming not to notice that Ryan Hollingshead was on the Dallas right and unable to pick up his mark.

Luchi’s men dropped into a mid block, letting the hosts have possession before picking their moments to bring the action back to the Austin third.

On the half-hour mark Jesus Ferreira cut from his right to his left to avoid a defender on the edge of the area, but his left footed effort was easily held. Brandon Servania kept up the pressure, winning a corner after attempting an audacious back heel flick under pressure from two defenders.

Dallas’ pressure did result in retaking the lead in the 36th minute through the man of the moment, El Tren. Brandon Servania found Ricardo Pepi around the halfway line. Pepi flicked the ball out right for Schon to run on to. Under little pressure from Kolmanic, Schon made his way into the box before squaring to Pepi in the middle. The soon-to-be USMNT striker took a touch and tucked the ball away in the bottom left corner.

If Luchi-ball could be defined by a passage of play, FCD showed it two minutes later. Edwin Cerrillo and Ema Twumasi held possession under pressure deep in Dallas territory. Twumasi broke free down the right and cut inside in the final third. Ricardo Pepi redirected a pass to Jesus Ferreira, that the Colombian-born attacker lifts over the back line for Jader Obrian to run on to. Obrian took the ball, and defensive pressure wide, before playing back to Szabolcs Schon for a first time effort. That shot was deflected by a defender, but only as far as Jesus Ferreira, who happily smashed the ball into the roof of the net from 12 yards.

Schon may not have got a second assist on the third goal but he certainly did on the fourth after Jesus Ferreira won the ball in the midfield to begin the play in the 40th minute. Ferreira slid the ball out wide to Schon on the right. The young Magyar took two touches before playing forward to Pepi who had somehow found his way ten yards clear of an Austin defender. Pepi brought the ball inside from the right with Ferreira in support, but instead hammered the ball low inside Struver’s near post.

Dallas were all about making a statement as Schon broke through the Austin midfield in stoppage time. After advancing with several options open, the Hungarian broke a tackle and got into a good position to shoot, but couldn’t keep his effort down.

“We dominated the first half. For the second half we were just trying to just sweep out the game.”

Ricardo Pepi

Luchi Gonzalez was a little less forward in his assessment going into the second half, talking about winning the half. While Dallas didn’t win the half, that first period had provided a sufficient bumper as a fast-paced game wore on.

Josh Wolff hit the panic button at half time, with three subs to try and patch the holes at the back. Ferreira saw a shot saved and forced a corner in the first couple of minutes as FCD kept on the first half pressure.

While Dallas sought to give a lesson on possession with purpose, they did find time for a clinical route-one goal. Jader Obrian hasn’t set the world alight in his time with the team, but a strong performance on both sides of the ball was duly rewarded from a 53rd minute Phelipe goal kick. What should have been a simple header back into the midfield from half-time sub Jhohan Romana became a strangely placed header that fell kindly to Obrian, who took a touch and shot low past Struver.

Austin had looked out of the races but Tomas Pochettino put a cross in from the right just seconds after the restart. Cecilio Dominguez me the cross six yards out, but Phelipe produced another strong save. The team in black with a little green did pull one back just before the hour through Diego Fagundez after Driussi slipped a nice pass in behind Matt Hedges.

Luchi Gonzalez went to the bench after the goal, giving Kalil ElMedkhar and Jose Martinez a run out in place of a visibly exhausted Szabolcs Schon, and Matt Hedges.

“A big word that we use in the team is adapting. We have players that are ready to step in. We have players in the roster that a few weeks ago weren’t even making the roster and they’re all stepping up.”

Jesus Ferreira on FC Dallas’ depth

Alex Ring restored some belief with a third Austin goal in the 58th minute, finishing a simple header after no-one in the FC Dallas back line picked up his run. Hector Jiminez appeared to be offside as the pass came that led to his cross, but a VAR check confirmed the goal.

Jader Obrian’s best performance in a long time came to and another pair of subs followed shortly after. Eddie Munjoma built on his USL-1 Team of the Week performance, replacing Brandon Servania. Franco Jara subbed in for Ricardo Pepi. Dallas took the opportunity to move into a 5-4-1 with Munjoma at right back pushing Twumasi into the center of midfield.

The two subs almost combined for a goal just three minutes after coming on. Munjoma brough the ball down the right. After cutting inside, the former SMU man found Franco Jara in the box but his shot deflected out for a corner off the hand of Romana. The small distance between the two players may have erred the referee towards deciding ball-to-hand.

Immediately after the board was held up to indicate six minutes of injury time, Ema Twumasi made a run through the midfield. As Twumasi went down under a challenge, the Ghanaian threaded a pass through for Jesus Ferreira to go one-on-one. With the possibility of a hat-trick, Ferreira’s powerful effort could only find the post.

Franco Jara almost finished the game off in absurd fashion. In the seventh minute of stoppage time, Jara ran clean through after completing a one-two with Jesus Ferreira. The Argentine finished a back heel effort but was a yard offside on the pass from Ferreira.

Dallas remain unbeaten against Texas teams in 2021, and now enjoy a five point lead in Copa Tejas. Most importantly four unbeaten on the road after the team kicked off the six-of-seven run of road games with four points from six.

Real Salt Lake is next on FC Dallas’ road trip during the international break. Ricardo Pepi, Szabolcs Schon, and Bryan Acosta will all be with their national teams as Dallas identifies the next men up.

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