For the second time in under a week, a late goal earned a good result for FC Dallas on the road once again as the Hoops managed a 1-1 draw away to Colorado Rapids on Saturday night in a clash between the league's current top two teams in an important match in the race for the Supporters' Shield. Marlon Hairston gave the Rapids the lead just before halftime after a mistake from Atiba Harris put him through on goal to score, but substitute Victor Ulloa came off the bench late and scored a stunning equalizer from long range a couple of minutes later to get FCD a crucial point, even without the injured pair of Maximiliano Urruti and Zach Loyd as well as Fabian Castillo, who seems to be on his way to Turkey soon.
The result tops off what was overall a fine week for the team, having won the Brimstone Cup the previous Saturday and having won a Texas Derby away in midweek and earning advancement to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals. The draw in Colorado keeps Dallas three points adrift of the Rapids and six adrift of LA Galaxy at the top, albeit with both rivals having three games in hand to try and topple FCD in the near future.
With Urruti getting injured in the midweek win at Houston and the Castillo transfer news popping up over the last 24 hours before the game, Dallas were left without two key attacking players for a game against the meanest defense in the league so far and seeing them underperform in this department as they have done on several occasions on the road this season wouldn't have been a surprise as a result. But that wasn't the case. Instead, Dallas created several chances to score, most of which were stopped by either an in-form Tim Howard in goal or a last gasp block from a Colorado defender. The team still managed to bag a goal though through an unlikely source when Ulloa sent a perfect strike from nearly 30 yards out into the top corner to earn Dallas a well deserved point.
Even with the absence of two or three key players, Dallas managed to control much of the contest and didn't give much away against a Colorado team who looked short of ideas going forward without the injured Jermaine Jones on the pitch. A couple of defensive lapses aside, one of which the Rapids profited from with a goal, Dallas was in control of proceedings and looked the more dangerous side throughout.
Part of that also goes down to the relentless high pressing that the team did for much of the game, which was impressive considering that Dallas was coming off a tough Texas derby just three days prior and it unsettled Colorado at the back, who clearly showed that they weren't used to playing teams with such energy and intensity, on numerous occasions. The team also did well to combat the Rapids' physical approach in midfield with Carlos Gruezo and Kellyn Acosta performing well and managing to intercept and win back several balls to stop their attacks and initiate Dallas counters.
Although the team managed to control the game well for much of the affair, a few lapses in concentration and giveaways at the back could have cost Dallas dear but wasteful finishing and in some instances good last ditch recoveries prevented Colorado from opening up a multiple goal lead which was vital in keeping FCD in the game. The manner of the conceded goal as well was a totally avoidable one with Harris taking too long to clear the ball and turning it in the direction of Hairston who finished it off in a calm, composed manner.
It wasn't a good night for Dallas wingers either, at least not until Michael Barrios moved from a 'false 9' role to the left to play as an inverted winger ala Castillo. Ryan Hollingshead looked better than he had done in previous weeks following his return from injury, but still not at the form he was earlier and not at the level you need to expect of a starting winger in matches like this one. Tesho Akindele had some good moments as well, but looked uncomfortable at times out on the left flank and didn't support Maynor Figueroa enough defensively as Colorado poured down that side during the early stages of the first half. Coy Craft made a decent cameo late on off the bench and looked lively, but the reality of Dallas' future in the wide positions in the event that Castillo leaves looks a bleak one, unless the management bring in a good replacement on short notice and/or recent loan signing Getterson turns out to be an unexpected stud.
Dallas now have eight days to prepare for the next match against Vancouver Whitecaps, which begins a run of three home games in the next four matches across two different competitions for the team as the season heats up going into August.