Quakes rocked by late Sealy goal in season opener

FC Dallas rallied back to start off the 2024 MLS season with a win against the San Jose Earthquakes despite missing all three Designated Players, and Paxton Pomykal.

“The first ten minutes, it took us a bit to get in the game and find the right way to press them,” said FCD Head Coach Nico Estevez. “They took their chance and scored early on. But the team’s response was very good and very positive, and we are capable of not only tying up the match but also creating goal-scoring opportunities.”

The 5-2-2-1 / 3-4-3 / 3-4-2-1 / whatever else you want to call it, didn’t get off to the best of starts as San Jose took the lead in the 6th minute. Cristian Espinoza turned Sam Junqua on the Dallas left, leaving a large space to run at with Dante Sealy and Liam Fraser caught up field. Sebastien Ibeagha’s deflection took the sting out of Jack Skahan’s shot, but couldn’t stop it inching towards goal. Maarten Paes recovered from his attempted save to palm the ball away, but could only direct the it to Benji Kikanovic for a simple tap-in.

Herbert Endeley impressed throughout preseason at right wing back, but the former Indiana Hoosier struggled early on letting a few passes run across his body and out for Quakes throws. Captain, Paul Arriola, and Asier Illarramendi visibly shared their displeasure with the second year pro.

The Spanish veteran was able to keep his cool in the 25th minute to draw Dallas level. Quakes keeper Daniel punched away a Sam Junqua corner. The Spaniard took a touch on his right foot to knock the ball away from Skahan before lashing in a low shot off his weaker foot from the edge of the box.

The Burn had a series of good chances as Illarremendi again, Nkosi Tafari, and Logan Farrington all had fantastic opportunities to take the lead. San Jose struggled to produce chances, but did find some success with through balls in behind Sebastien Ibeagha.

The game looked like adding to the day’s four other draws across Major League Soccer before Dante Sealy popped up in the fourth minute of stoppage time to give Dallas the win. Dante’s father Scott also scored his first MLS goal against the Quakes, almost 19 years ago.

“It just shows a lot of maturity that he has, he wasn’t too involved in a lot of action today and Neither was I,” said Paul Arriola of Sealy’s goal. “But just to have that resilience and the mentality to continue to get into the box and be ready for the one opportunity that you get, and he was able to do that. Obviously, it’s great for him to carry that confidence. And, you know, I’m really proud to be his teammate to watch him grow. He’s done a fabulous job, and hopefully he continues.”

Dallas largely favored attacks from the right, but it was a left sided movement that won the game. Sealy found Sebastian Lletget in the middle, resulting in a shot by the substitute midfielder. The blocked effort rebounded to Sealy, who drove the ball home with his left foot.

The new formation showed some frailties, notably on the San Jose goal, but the pressing game was a joy to watch and FC Dallas put in 21 shots – four more than any game in 2023. They also recorded one more shot on target and corner kick than their season highs last year.

Montreal is next up as the Quebecers visit Saturday for a 7:30pm kick off on Texas Independence Day. Montreal opened its season by holding Orlando to a goalless tie on the road.

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