Pepi hat trick hero as FC Dallas routs the Galaxy

FC Dallas returned home to “Fortress Frisco”, playing hosts to the LA Galaxy, for their third game in eight days after having gone point-less in the previous two matches on the road.

Los Toros – in dire need of points and goals with an opportunity to get both at home – rotated the starting eleven. Hungarian winger Szabolcs Schön got his first start at left-wing moving Paxton Pomykal to right-wing and Franco Jara to the bench. Andres Ricaurte replaced Edwin Cerrillo getting his first start since June 16th against Minnesota United.

A Chicarito-less LA Galaxy entered the match missing a few of their own due to Gold Cup call-ups and injuries.

The opening minutes saw both sides build patiently while getting forward with probing passes. Dallas preferred to play long balls to the front-line, hoping to put their forwards in space to run towards goal.

The Galaxy began to find momentum as the match progressed and had their own scoring opportunities within the Dallas penalty box.

Andres Ricaurte, tasked with being the main driving force within the midfield, made his presence known and became more creative with each passing minute.

Growing in influence, Ricaurte played a well-timed ball centrally to Ricardo Pepi, who found his way behind the Galaxy defense and got FC Dallas on the scoreboard in the 27th minute. It was Pepi’s sixth goal of the season and his fourth consecutive goal at home.

The Dallas goal brought life to the game and appeared to have reinvigorated the Dallas players, giving them a sense of urgency, leading to a faster-paced game from Los Toros.

The Galaxy, not wanting to lose the momentum that they had built earlier in the half, raised the intensity of their attack and began to press the backline higher up the field. This forced FC Dallas to defend deeper where all eleven Dallas players defended within their own half.

In spite of having to defender deeper, FC Dallas made the most of their attacking opportunities when in the final third. Ricardo Pepi got his second career brace from a Jesus Ferreira serviced corner in the 44th minute.

FC Dallas ended the first half leading 2-0, the first they have led at halftime since the 4-1 home win against the Portland Timbers on May 1st back on Matchday 3.

Luchi Gonzalez and his team have had multiple games where the team’s performance has varied in each half. While the first half may not have been the club’s best performance, the most important stat, goals, indicated that the game was within FC Dallas’ control.

“The challenge is to win the second half,” Gonzalez said. Once the first half is over don’t play the score. We needed to come out with fire and energy and continue to have pressure and stay organized and make sure to hurt their last line and attack them. There was emotion and focus and the desire to win the second half.”

Jesus Ferreira and Ricardo Pepi embrace after Pepi scored FC Dallas’ second goal against the LA Galaxy (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Ricardo Pepi, single-handily continued the scoring momentum – getting his second career hattrick in the 50th minute -after recovering the ball from Szabolcs Schön. Pepi is now the youngest player and second teenager (Kekuta Manneh) in MLS history to have scored a hattrick at 18 years old and 196 days.

“If you asked Pepi he would’ve told you that he should’ve had four,” Luchi Gonzalez said of Pepi. “We talk about challenging him and he’s the player of the future. He’s a humble kid and such a respectful young man. He works so hard for this team. He going to be marked and scouted harder but we’ll continue to work harder.”

The momentum was clearly in Dallas’ favor and they continued to press forward wanting to build confidence through scoring goals.

Jesus Ferreira, after putting strong shift serving a supporting role, was substituted for Edwin Cerrillo in the 69th minute.

LA Galaxy was visibly frustrated and their challenges and tackles become forceful, hoping to dispossess the FC Dallas players while trying to get underneath their skin.

Ema Twumasi entered for Szabolcs Schön – who had earned an assist and nearly a goal – in the 78th minute.

“It felt amazing and I’m really happy that the team won tonight,” Szabolcs Schön said of his performance. “I felt that the first two and three games were difficult but in training, we started to get to know each other and it got better and better.”

Hattrick Hero Ricardo Pepi and Paxton Pomykal were both replaced by Franco Jara and Jader Obrain respectively in the 85th minute.

Jader Obrian earned the title of “impact-sub” after Justin Che played a pass to the winger on the right side. The pass put Obrian in 1-v-1 on Jonathan Bond who was unable to stop the shot on goal.

It was a dominating performance that yielded goals, records, points, shutout, and win. FC Dallas got a deserved 4-0 rout of the Galaxy in front of the home fans.

“The team wanted to win, I wanted to win, and that is what is important,” Ricardo Pepi said. “We needed this win, it gives us a lot of confidence and this is a great win for the team and it will help us down the road.”

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