St. Louis tops ten-man FC Dallas 2-1

Only the third red card for a goalkeeper in team history couldn’t put FC Dallas down in St. Louis, but a strong rearguard action was undone by a couple of late mistakes that left the Hoops empty handed.

“Playing 70 or 80 minutes with 10 players can be difficult, especially against a team with the energy of St. Louis,” said FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez. “If you look at the stats, we had better expected goals and multiple clear chances. The difference was that they took advantage of their chances, and we didn’t. I am really proud of the group for how they fought to get a result on the road.”

There were four changes to the FC Dallas lineup and no Jesus Ferreira. The confirmation came not from the league, nor club, but Jesus’ Twitch stream three hours prior to the game.

Coach went with a bit of a 4-4-2 as Sebastien Ibeagha came in for Jose Martinez in defense. The midfield saw Dante Sealy come in at left mid in his first FC Dallas start, opposite Sebastian Lletget. Paxton Pomykal got his first start since the abandoned game against STL at Toyota Stadium in June, partnering Facundo Quignon.

Jesus Jimenez was pretty ineffective against Austin, and so got a partner in Jader Obrian.

The Burn looked firmly on the front foot for the first ten minutes until a horrendous miscommunication between two of the team’s consistent performers.

Nkosi Tafari shepherded a ball for Maarten Paes to clear outside of the box. Bizarrely while looking away and gesturing to another defender, Tafari moves away from the ball with Paes clearly expecting his center back to make the clearance. The Dutchman attempted to slide and kick the ball ahead of a St. Louis challenge but the ball touched his forearm on the ground. As clear a red card as you’ll ever see.

After a lot of deliberation among the coaching staff, Jesus Jimenez got the hook for Jimmy Maurer.

Miraculously, Dallas could have taken the lead in the 26th minute after Sebastian Lletget pressured Tim Parker into coughing the ball up. Lletget found Jader Obrian, who turned Josh Yaro in the St. Louis box before firing low at Roman Burki’s goal. The former Borussia Dortmund keeper made a crucial save though.

The hosts took a half hour to get their first real effort, with Aziel Jackson shooting from distance. Dallas had done a really good job of regaining defensive stability after the red card, potentially a hallmark of Nico Estevez’ usual approach to road games of closing down for the first hour before trying to win late on.

Dallas got to the half, largely denying St. Louis from getting into the box. Their two shots on target came from 25-30 yards out. The ten Huntsmen certainly didn’t have the frequency of chances, but did have the more dangerous ones.

A frustrated St. Louis City SC made three subs at half time. Dallas opted not to with two sub windows to last the second half.

Dante Sealy took just 19 seconds to record FCD’s second shot on goal, a low drive from outside the box after comfortably cutting through their midfield.

Aside from that one lapse in the 11th minute, both center backs had been fantastic. Tafari had made an end-to-end recovery run to make a tackle in his own box in the first half, and that was before two highlight reel plays around the 50th minute. After a header away on a goal-bound effort by Jackson, Kos slid in to steal a ball off the foot of Rasmus Alm in the six-yard box and hammer the ball away from danger.

Eduard Lowen had been surprisingly quiet before a 54th minute left footed drive from the top of the box forced Maurer into a nice save low to his right. Maurer had another solid stop on a distance effort by Indiana Vassilev in the 60th minute.

Right on time, Nico Estevez made his attacking changes on the hour. Asier Illarramendi replaced Lletget in the midfield. Eugene Ansah on for Jader Obrian as the lone forward.

The low block continued to deny the hosts. Their rallying call was the 71st minute introduction of Joao Klauss.

The earlier red card was pretty cut and dry, but a potential red for Asier Illarramendi was simply baffling. The former Real Madrid man picked up an earlier booking before being shown a second yellow for seemingly nothing. VAR informed the ref that he’d shown the card to the wrong player, which was given to Facundo Quignon instead for a rather exaggerated shoulder-to-shoulder contact on the edge of the Dallas area.

FCD carved out THE chance to win as Paxton Pomykal rolled back the months in the 77th minute. After ghosting through the St. Louis midfield, Pomykal spread the ball out right to an unmarked Eugene Ansah. The Ghanaian tried a cut-back to get around Josh Yaro but the ball got caught under his feet. Eventually Ansah did recover the ball to shoot, but by that time it was through a crowd of defenders, and Burki easily collected the chance.

The final two changes came in the 81st minute as Nico Estevez sought to seal the point with Jose Martinez replacing Marco Farfan. Paxton Pomykal departed for Liam Fraser to make his first appearance for FC Dallas. The team slotted into a 5-3-1 with Ema Twumasi and Dante Sealy at wing back.

Unfortunately the first touch of the ball after the change was for Ema Twumasi to put the ball into his own net. Alm swung in a cross from the Dallas left that struck Twumasi’s thigh inside the six yard box before settling inside Maurer’s back post.

St. Louis doubled the lead in the 85th minute with Dallas careless in possession. Liam Fraser watched an errant pass under pressure from Nkosi Tafari go by. St. Louis worked a cross into the area, with Klauss dummying the ball for Nokkvi Thorisson waiting at the back post.

Twumasi did prevent a third in stoppage time, making a fantastic recovery run to poke the ball away from a St. Louis forward waiting to shoot. The ball went under the body of Jimmy Maurer and turned narrowly away from goal to give up a corner.

FCD got on the board late in stoppage time through Eugene Ansah. Roman Burki spilled a routine gather on a poor cross from Liam Fraser. Ansah did well to hold off a defender and clean up, but that would be the last touch of the game.

Referee Guido Gonzales, Jr. did flash a red card yet again after the conclusion of the game, after one of the FC Dallas performance coaches gave his frank assessment of the referee’s performance.

Overall a bitterly disappointing end to what was a phenomenal defensive effort against Major League Soccer’s leading scorers. It does however continue to raise questions of the effect of Nico Estevez’ substitutions.

Dallas regroups for a home game with Atlanta United on Saturday. There will be a question mark over the status of Jesus Ferreira, who Estevez mentioned was still working to come back to full effect with athletic trainers. Either way Coach will have to do without Maarten Paes. He may also have a new midfield headache with Paxton Pomykal, Sebastian Lletget, and Facundo Quignon all having strong games while Alan Velasco was rested.

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