It was the second thrilling game in a row at Pizza Hut Park as FC Dallas erased their first two goal deficit of the season scoring two goals in the final ten minutes to earn a 2-2 draw against New England. In a game where Dallas was missing five starters, New England took an early shock lead as Shalrie Joseph scored his first goal of the season by way of a busted offside trap. The goal looked offside in the stadium, but replays showed a far different story.
The New England goal woke FC Dallas up and the home team had the bulk of the possession and even earned a penalty kick on a blown call by the ref. However, David Ferreira sent it wide right and Dallas went into the break behind 1-0. It was Dallas' first halftime deficit since July 11th in Seattle. FC Dallas came out just as flat in the second half and would soon be two goals down for the first time this season as New England stung Dallas on a brilliant counterattack led by Marko Perovic and finished off by Stolica(I warned you about these guys!).
Sandwiched between Stolica's goal was the introductions of Eric Avila, Ruben Luna and Jeff Cunningham into the game, giving FC Dallas the attacking punch they were missing all game. These three with Ferreira would change the game as a deserved Ferreira penalty pulled one back and FC Dallas would pull level on the final kick of the game. Avila, Ferreira and Cunningham linked up on a beautiful one touch passing sequence to leave Cunningham with a tap in goal on the last kick of the game to keep the 16-game FC Dallas unbeaten streak alive.
-David Ferreira, at least for one night, is back. El Torito returned to his old self last night drawing two penalties, scoring one goal and bagging his tenth assist of the season on the brilliant equalizer. Sure, he missed a penalty, but the response more than made up for his error. He earned his captain's armband last night.
-Injuries or not, there's no excuse for coming out as flat as the team did. The team came out complacent, not mentally prepared for an MLS game and they got punished for it. Mental mistakes like a blown offside trap cannot happen in the playoffs, though I don't expect Dallas to play like this again.
-Last night we saw the distribution that is missed without Daniel Hernandez. It may not always be pretty, but Hernandez knows how to win the ball and get it to the players that can push it forward. One of the biggest problems for FC Dallas last night was the link between the back 4 and offense was non-existent. Just way too many turnovers out of the back and no ability to systematically work the ball up. Get well soon Daniel...
More thoughts and links...jump
-For whatever reason, Dax and Eric Alexander just couldn't get on the same page like they were in the New York game. With a rookie, you're always going to get that inconsistency, but still it was disappointing to not see these two gel.
-Loyd and Jackson have done a great job, but the cracks are starting to show. Without Hartman to organize them, Loyd and Jackson have not been quite as solid and they're starting to leak goals. Not to take anything away from what they've done, but FCD needs George John back in the worst way.
-The performance of the subs throws Saturday's lineup into haywire. The game completely changed when Avila, Cunningham and Luna came into the game, creating big questions on what team Schellas will throw out there at KC in a couple of days time. I recognize the defense that Atiba Harris brings, but I thought he was just not up to par again last night for about the fifth game in a row. I'd love to see Avila in there on the right and see what he can do. It almost seems the best way to handle Cunningham and Milton at forward is to just alternate starts.
-A quick turnaround is good after this game, but Kansas City will be extremely tough. At almost exactly the same time that Dallas was staging their comeback last night, Kansas City was having one of their own as they came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Houston 4-3 on the last kick of the game. It's good that FCD can instantly put this game out of their minds and move on, however, Saturday will be a total dogfight with a KC team battling for that last playoff spot.
Steve Hunt writes that "Refuse to Lose" could be the FC Dallas playoff motto
"As soon as the second goal came in, we thought, ‘Here comes our losing streak. Let’s move on to the next,’" Avila said. "Something happened. Our team has heart. We didn’t feel like giving up. We kept going and want to make ourselves better.
"As soon as we hit the first goal, we got some life back in us," continued Avila. "There was enough time for us to go and attack. It took the whole team to go out and do it."
Addressing the media at the end of the match, Hyndman admitted he had a sinking feeling heading into Wednesday’s game about how his club might fare due to missing five starters.
"I was concerned about this game the whole day. I said it in the locker room to the coaches, ‘I don’t have a good feel here because what we were missing was the leadership and the motivation,’" the FCD manager said.
But all it took was three words written on a dry erase board to help turn things around.
Phil Stephens writes about Dallas earning an unlikely draw
Hyndman showed his team draws leadership from within.
"Somebody put on the board when I came in "refuse to lose," and I think that says a lot about our team. We missed a PK that I think would have changed the game in the first half because I think they would have suffocated. Instead, we made it difficult on ourselves. In the second half, I think we played much better. A lot of times, when you’re down 2-0, you just disappear, but these guys didn’t. It ended on a good note. We keep our unbeaten streak going. But we want to get points and right now we’ve got more ties than we thought we’d have. But at the end of the day, we got a point."
From the other side, Brian O'Connell writes about New England's Disappointment in Big D
Clutching a tenuous one-goal lead into stoppage, the Revolution survived a series of late Dallas attacks until Eric Avila delivered a keen ball from D toward the right post, where Ferreira tapped it toward the opposite stick. At the last possible moment, Cunningham charged ahead and redirected it through to give Dallas the last-gasp draw.
Andy Friedlander of the Dallas Morning News wrote about David Ferreira atoning for his early mistake
"It was very uncharacteristic of him to miss the entire goal," FCD coach Schellas Hyndman said. "But when a player comes back and wants to take that second penalty, the key thing for the coach to understand is that the player has confidence. That's a confidence shot. And I'm not going to call him off if he has that confidence."
Ferreira said he felt he needed to take the second shot to make up for his miss.
"I was really angry at myself because I let everyone down." he said through a translator.
Ridge Mahoney of Soccer America says FC Dallas is the toughest team to beat in the league
If the Galaxy-Red Bulls tussle Friday night is to be "The Game of the Season," as its being ruthlessly promoted by MLS, topping the two games played Wednesday will take some doing. FC Dallas proved once again it is the toughest team to beat in MLS by rallying from two goals down to tie New England, 2-2, and Kansas City took the comeback theme one step further by beating Houston, 4-3, after trailing, 3-1.
Quick turnaround folks, need to win in Kansas City to keep up with the rest of the league. Fail to win on Saturday and I think the Supporter's Shield hopes(and home field advantage) are very slim indeed.
What did I miss? What are your thoughts on the game?