FC Dallas recorded a massive 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders on Sunday evening at Toyota Stadium and did so in the unlikeliest of circumstances. After Nicolas Lodeiro’s clever free kick gave Seattle the lead just before halftime, it looked for long periods like FCD was set to lose for the second time at home this year but late heroics from Maximiliano Urruti and, more memorably, veteran Carlos Ruiz turned things around in unbelievable fashion to earn Dallas a victory in an unlikely position.
The win, coupled with Colorado’s defeat at Portland, meant that Dallas regained control of its Supporters’ Shield destiny which they can claim on the final day of the regular season with a point at LA Galaxy. As fanciable of a situation as it is now for the Hoops, the injuries to Mauro Diaz and Kellyn Acosta certainly left a couple of black marks on a mixed day for the club.
The winning mentality coming into play again was the brightest point from a collective perspective as Dallas once more displayed their powers of recovery with a late turnaround victory here. Despite not playing well for large spells of the game and being suffocated by a compact Seattle defense as the match grew older, FCD managed to find a way to get through like all championship caliber teams do and ended up winning the contest even on an off day. That sort of comeback is the material that champions are made of and by producing it on the penultimate matchday of the season, Dallas may well have pushed itself into a position to win the Shield for the first time in club history.
Another great moment obviously was seeing Carlos Ruiz roll back the years with a delicate finish just before stoppage time which ended up being the game winner. It was his first FCD goal since 2007 and in his first MLS appearance for the club since his return last month. His goal sent the Toyota Stadium into jubilation and created a crowed eruption you seldom see in these parts, which only serves to prove how memorable and special of a moment that was for everyone involved.
Aside from Ruiz, there were some other big moments for individuals in the team that really made a difference in this game. Urruti’s equalizer was just as important as the winner and him managing to scrap for the ball in a tight area and end up scoring was just definitive of the kind of player he is, always fighting for every ball and never giving up. Diaz had a quiet game by his standards before the injury but came up with two big assists when it mattered most, which only continues to show that there is no one way to limit the Argentine’s influence in key matches. Veteran Mauro Rosales made an impact off the bench as well by adding some extra creativity to Dallas’ offense and stretching Seattle’s back line to a point in which they could not sustain their defensive compactness any longer.
Obviously, the worst news from this game came in the form of the injuries inflicted on vital midfield cogs, Acosta and Diaz. Although official announcements haven’t yet been made on the severity of their injuries, it is likely that both, especially the latter, will spend some time away on the sidelines. While there still may be hope that Acosta will appear again this year despite his struggles to even walk without a crutch following a hip injury, Diaz’s season is almost certainly over with a suspected torn Achilles, which may see him miss significant time into the 2017 season as well if the worst comes to pass. Devastating losses for Dallas if the rumors become reality and it’ll leave Oscar Pareja with plenty of pondering to do in a short space of time to find solutions ahead of the MLS Cup playoffs.
There were some below-par performances from some individuals to take note of as well. Tesho Akindele was ineffective without having spaces to run into and was rightfully subbed off for Rosales in the second half. Victor Ulloa didn’t have much of an impact on the ball in his time on the pitch while Chris Seitz’s rare howler on Lodeiro’s goal could have proved costly on another day. Dallas’ reliance on the role players will grow even bigger now with the aforementioned injuries and the players named here are just some of the ones who will have to step up in the place of those absentees if the team is to continue their march for glory in what has so far been quite a storied 2016 season.
The physical nature of the game which led to two serious injuries was also not a happy sight in this one, especially with the officiating performance being as sketchy as it was for both teams. Twenty-nine fouls, four bookings, and a couple of bad injuries, for which the challenges that led to them weren’t punished, as well as an admittedly wrongly disallowed Seattle goal, indicate that this was not a very well managed affair from the refereeing crew of Mark Geiger and co. Hopefully Dallas will see better officiating in the remaining games of the year than what we saw in this match.
FC Dallas will now travel to Guatemala to face domestic champions Suchitepequez in a CONCACAF Champions League group stage decider before going to California to wrap up the regular season at LA Galaxy. Two draws are necessary for Dallas to meet their aims of progressing in the CCL and winning the Shield, both of which would be firsts in the franchise’s history.