A tired FC Dallas traveling to face an Atlanta side that hadn’t won any of its previous six games was never going to be a thrilling contest, but the slow crawl may represent a missed opportunity later in the season.
“A flat 10 minutes punished us, and we didn’t push the game. Obviously, being down, we went for it but it wasn’t enough. We’re disappointed because we thought we could get points here.”Luchi Gonzalez
Rotation has been the word on Luchi’s lips and the theme continued as Bryan Reynolds dropped to the bench with Ryan Hollingshead moving over to right back as cover, and Johnny Nelson once again starting at left back.
Reto Ziegler was listed on an amended injury report close to game time with Bressan stepping in. Gonzalez later confirmed his captain had experienced tightness in his hamstring. The other big change was Jesus Ferreira getting the start up front with both Franco Jara and Ricardo Pepi on the bench.
Atlanta’s Jake Mulraney had a couple of pot shots early on, but the first noteworthy moment came as late as the 44th minute with the two teams struggling to make any possession count. Johnny Nelson attempted to cut out an Emerson Hyndman cross into Dallas’ area, but all he was able to do was pull the ball down into the path of Brooks Lennon. Lennon’s shot ricochets off Matt Hedges and Nelson on its way back out of the area.
Atlanta made a pair of changes at the break, hoping to shore up the wider midfield as FCD had found some success penetrating out wide.
Five minutes into the second half a corner deflected off an Atlanta player into the path of Matt Hedges in the Dallas box. The ball appears to hit Hedges on the head and shoulder before he was able to attempt to clear as far as Jeff Larentowicz, who missed a bicycle kick at the front post.
After a long delay the referee was called to the monitor to check for a possible handball on Hedges, reviewing the ball hitting the Dallas defender’s shoulder, and potentially brushing his arm upon bouncing up.
Nothing conclusive appeared on the available camera angles, but referee Timothy Ford felt he saw enough probability to award a penalty which Larentowicz duly converted.
“Where else am I supposed to put my hands? I guess I could sew them to my sides and even then it’s still gonna hit that spot.”Matt Hedges on the penalty decision
As the game plodded along Luchi Gonzalez attempted to bring some life to the tie with a triple substitution in the 68th minute.
Franco Jara, Santiago Mosquera, and Bryan Reynolds entered looking to spark some of the intensity from the weekend’s win at Sporting Kansas City, and it produced Dallas’ first chance immediately.
Michael Barrios catches Bryan Reynolds on the underlap to complete a one-two. The Homegrown crosses low for Jesus Ferreira to shoot first-time, but his shot loops over the bar.
Dallas began to press and look closer to its usual self but worryingly the team waited 80 minutes for the first and only shot on target as Santiago Mosquera should have added to his four goals in September.
Michael Barrios cut in from the right and found Andres Ricaurte outside the area. Ricaurte feeds Mosquera on the left. The Colombian winger takes a little time to set himself for the shot, giving Brad Guzan ample time to position himself for what turns out to be a simple save.
To add any insult to injury from the earlier goal, it took until the final minute for Atlanta to fashion out its first real chance as Mosquera gave the ball away in midfield with a wayward pass. The Five Stripes advance in possession with Edgar Castillo getting a shot off close to goal that’s saved by Jimmy Maurer. Eric Remedi looks to turn in the rebound but for an excellent block by Matt Hedges.
“We had a really young team last year but most of our guys have experience in the league. If we’re going to fight for a top conference spot, we have to find consistency in our desire no matter who we play, where we play or where the other team is in the table.”Luchi Gonzalez
Dallas returns home to face Orlando City, second in the Eastern Conference, on Sunday before the team gets its first midweek-break since August.