Tafari rescues a late point for FC Dallas in San Jose

A stoppage time header by Nkosi Tafari delivered FC Dallas a deserved point on the road to Luchi Gonzalez and the San Jose Earthquakes. An earlier mistake by Ema Twumasi looked to have cost the Huntsmen a chance of extending their unbeaten run to five in a largely cagy game.

“The game could have gone either way,” said FC Dallas defender Sam Junqua. “We had some good moments and they were dangerous at times. We’re a bit disappointed about the goal and the way we conceded. But the response was great and it was a tight game anyways.”

Nico Estevez made two changes from the draw with Houston, one forced as Paxton Pomykal added to the injury list with a left quad strain. Sebastien Ibeagha was rotated out of the defense meaning Jose Martinez partnering Nkosi Tafari at center back. Marco Farfan and Ema Twumasi took up their usual spots, with Jimmy Maurer continuing to start in Maarten Paes’ absence.

With no Pomykal or Sebastian Lletget, it was a double pivot of Edwin Cerrillo and Facundo Quignon, with Tsiki Ntsabeleng ahead.

Once again an unchanged front three with Jesus Ferreira in the center, and Alan Velasco and Jader Obrian on the wings.

San Jose are of course coached by Luchi Gonzalez, and count another former Dallas man with Carlos Gruezo the single pivot in a 4-3-3.

Injuries are certainly piling up for Dallas. A positive start, highlighted by an early Alan Velasco shot on target, was soon clouded over by an injury to Tsiki Ntsabeleng in the 7th minute. Benjamin Kikanovic, battling with Ema Twumasi, tumbled into the South African’s knee. The trainers administered the usual checks around the various ligaments, with the second year pro clearly in some pain.

Sam Junqua would be the replacement, and the former Houston utility man almost gave Dallas something to cheer about in the 19th minute. Jader Obrian patiently maneuvered around the San Jose box, spotting a gap and a run by Junqua. The substitute got on the end of the through ball, but at a tight angle to shoot, so he pulled the ball back across the face of goal but only as far as Carlos Gruezo.

The rise of Jader Obrian has been the story of the past few weeks. The 28-year-old fed Jesus Ferreira in a couple of good positions, Ferreira forced Daniel to tip the ball onto the post in the 27th minute, but blazed the ball over a couple of minutes later.

The Quakes had a couple of shots of their own, notably through Miguel Trauco, but only achieved 0.07xG from the first 45 minutes to Dallas’ 0.39.

Marco Farfan isn’t the guy you expect to see one-on-one with the keeper, but that’s what happened in the 51st minute after Alan Velasco knocked the ball off a San Jose defender into the path of the Burn left back. Farfan reacted well but so did Daniel in the Quakes goal.

The hosts also saw a knee injury end a player’s shift early with Paul Marie departing before the hour mark. The Quakes full back tried to play through the pain after treatment but needed to make way for Tommy Thompson.

Both sides began to slowly emerge from their shells. Jeremy Ebobisse smashed a long shot for Jimmy Maurer to comfortably hold. Both Junqua and Velasco went down in the box, but Dallas’ year-long wait for a penalty went on.

The home side took a bizarre lead in the 70th minute. Kikanovic glanced a header off a free kick. Ema Twumasi shockingly stepped out of the way of the soft effort and watched it bounce in off the post, inadvertently blocking Maurer from attempting to make the save rather than just clearing the ball out.

Nico Estevez reacted by pulling Junqua back to the bench in favor of Jesus Jimenez. The substitution pushed Velasco back out wide.

Dallas pushed forward as San Jose compressed back. Ferreira got a shot off in the box from a Twumasi cross, but couldn’t get enough behind it before it was blocked. A searching ball by Nkosi Tafari found the feet of Jimenez before two defenders pounced.

A last roll of the dice came in the 83rd minute with Herbert Endeley making his debut. The rookie replaced the struggling Ema Twumasi, while Bernard Kamungo came in for Facundo Quignon.

Nkosi Tafari pushed up, tying the game in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Alan Velasco played a long ball off the left wing looking for Tafari or Jimenez, The FCD center back looped his header over Daniel in the San Jose goal.

“I think Nkosi’s a big guy and to have good crosses it’s better to have a guy like him,” said Nico Estevez. “He has a good agility that helps him move in tight spaces. He has a good shot. He’s also a little bit crazy, you know. It’s good to send these guys up top and do crazy things as he did – scoring a goal.”

The whistle soon went, as both coaches ran to break up a confrontation as Judson ran to FC Dallas assistant coach Peter Luccin. The Brazilian midfielder saw a red card for his part, probably the best scenario given the Frenchman’s tough reputation as a player.

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