Fortress Frisco may not have been the beacon of hope for FC Dallas fans that it once was but a Raul Ruidiaz goal meant that the Huntsmen lost back-to-back home games for the first time in eight years.
“I’m super frustrated about performance in every aspect and hopefully we can channel some of that anger into Houston.”Jimmy Maurer
Looking to build on the point in Seattle, and maybe erase the memory of a first home defeat of the season at the weekend, Luchi Gonzalez made three changes to his starting lineup.
Bressan returned from suspension to relieve Matt Hedges, who was unlikely to make two starts in five days on his return from injury. Facundo Quignon was a late scratch after injuring his groin in the warm-up, as Bryan Acosta returned to partner Edwin Cerillo. Paxton Pomykal was a second enforced change after sustaining a knee injury in the 2-0 loss to SKC. Jader Obrian took the start opposite Szabolcs Schon.
The late change to the midfield left FC Dallas with that rare occurrence – two goalkeepers on the bench.
Seattle also saw a few changes following their Cascadia Cup win, with a bench that included leading scorer Raul Ruidiaz and fellow Designated Players, Nicolas Lodeiro and Joao Paulo. Only four players who started the 6-2 win over Portland would make it to the starting XI in Frisco.
A rainy day in DFW gave way to a muggy evening, and that humidity may have assisted a slow start. Bryan Acosta tried to jump start proceedings in the 14th minute with a change from his usual long effort. A much flatter shot from a wide angle barely cleared the bar, putting Spencer Richey on notice.
The Sounders keeper was tested six minutes later by Jesus Ferreira. Picking up a pass from Jimmy Maurer in his own half, Ferreira turned Jimmy Medranda before advancing unchallenged through the Seattle half. The son of the 2010 MLS MVP shot from 20 yards, with Richey only able to palm the ball up. Ricardo Pepi chased in for the second chance, but Shane O’Neill was able to see off the 2021 MLS All-Star’s challenge.
Seattle’s formation showed as a staggered 5-4-1, but played more as a flat front three allowing FC Dallas a strong advantage in the midfield with Bryan Acosta stepping up in support for Jesus Ferreira. FCD took advantage to get good looks in and around the Sounders area.
The Sounders should have grabbed a 44th minute opener but for poor finishing. Josh Atencio found Will Bruin down the left hand side. The former Houston Dynamo forward picked out Kelyn Rowe at the back post, but Rowe’s header flew over the cross bar with Jimmy Maurer scrambling to react.
The teams had combined for 12 shots in the first half, with only Ferreira’s effort on target. Dallas had done well to keep Seattle to low-chance scoring positions. Rowe’s late effort was only the second in the box – after an earlier Bruin shot came from the very edge of the area.
Dallas knew that the Sounders’ loaded bench would come into play soon, but failed to take advantage of the weakened XI on the field, and make Seattle have to chase the game.
The second half certainly started faster than the first. Jesus Ferreira popped a poor Sounders defensive ball between the center backs and let Ricardo Pepi play chase with the Seattle defense. Pepi shot low but saw his shot parried towards Jader Obrian. The Colombian overran the ball, recovering to play a pass back to Pepi, but the Homegrown’s second shot was wide of the post.
Brian Schmezer had tightened his midfield as the Sounders played a more compressed shape. Dallas looked more to the wings, which had struggled somewhat in the first period.
Seattle hadn’t threatened much, but some woeful coverage in the Dallas back line almost gifted a lead to the visitors in the 52nd minute. Kelyn Rowe found himself on the right side without a red shirt for 15 yards as Atencio switched play out right. A poor first touch from Rowe allowed the FC Dallas defense some recovery, but his delayed cross still found Will Bruin who finished a close one-on-one as the linesman flagged offside.
After trading chances , Seattle did indeed take that lead in the 63rd minute. Raul Ruidiaz is an impact sub most teams could only wish for and his impact was to score exactly 30 seconds after replacing Bruin. From the midfield free kick Joao Paulo combined with fellow sub Nico Lodeiro, without any pressure from an FC Dallas player. Lodeiro played an easy ball as Ruidiaz peeled off the loose marking of Bressan to received the pass. The Peruvian striker saw his first attempt blocked by Nkosi Tafari, recovered the ball and played a spectacular chip off the far post to open the scoring.
Dallas found clear chances hard to come by, but a cross field ball from Ricardo Pepi found Szabolcs Schon on a run through the middle of the pitch. Shane O’Neill recovered well to force the Hungarian’s run wide. Schon turned out of danger to find Jesus Ferreira on the edge of the area. Ferreira’s shot could only find the shin of Abdoulaye Cissoko before the ball was cleared.
Luchi Gonzalez went to his bench. Franco Jara and Andres Ricaurte came in shortly after the opening goal. Freddy Vargas and Kalil ElMedkhar came in the 77th minute as Dallas moved into an asymmetric shape with ElMedkahar occupying the entire right side as Pepi compressed centrally on the attack.
Two of those subs eventually made a mark on the game as Jara was afforded a golden chance in the 84th minute from the feet of Vargas. Ryan Hollingshead had released Vargas down the left. The Venzuelan raced to the end line, cutting back to Jara in the box, but his first-timer from close range flew harmlessly wide.
Ricardo Pepi’s scoring streak has really cooled off, but the youngster had a chance to be the hero in the 89th minute as Freddy Vargas found Pepi in a great position from the left. Pepi appeared to have a strong chance at a near post finish, but Xavier Arreaga managed to get just enough pressure on the ball.
Jimmy Maurer sought the go-ahead to go up for a corner in the 93rd minute, settling instead on taking up place in the center circle to pump back in any clearances as Dallas tried to force an equalizer, but instead Dallas’ strong away showing preceded a home double to forget.
Luchi Gonzalez made the point during his post game press conference, but winning those two games would have FC Dallas comfortably in the playoffs. Beating a virtual reserve team would have left Dallas tied on points with Portland for the final postseason place, and in a much better place going into a rivalry game with Houston next weekend.