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Takeaways from FC Dallas’ win over LAFC

It was a grind but it was worth it in the end for FC Dallas as they downed the top team in the league.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday evening looked to be one of those nights that wasn’t going our way until all of a sudden a little spark changed everything.

Jesus Ferreira now sits tied with 18 goals atop the FC Dallas all-time leaderboard for goal scoring in a single season with club legends Jason Kreis and Kenny Cooper.

Here are a few thoughts I took away from the win over LA and what it could mean for the rest of the season.

Never letting up

There was a sense for FC Dallas in the second half as the game was wearing on that a goal was going to be tough to come by. They had one called offside and it seemed like LAFC was doing everything in their power to compact the midfield and limit chances on goal. But I would say it was their physical play that did them in that led to the two Dallas goals. Because of that physical play, Dallas was indeed, very sneaky sir.

There is so much to unpack on this goal too. From Franco Escobar not holding on to the ball and allowing his teammates to get set up. To Paul Arriola’s genius-level IQ to pick up on the situation and see Ferreria WIDE OPEN in the middle of the LAFC penalty box. To Ferreria’s calm and cool finishing on the play.

“Right off the top, Escobar left the ball, which obviously us MLS players are not encouraged to touch the ball,” explained Arriola. “As he was dropping it I could see Jesus kind of waiting in there. The guys turned around and I played it to him to see what would happen. Obviously a great shot from him at a very tough angle.”

Head coach Nico Estevez discussed after the game the importance of set pieces this season and how the team as adapted to what the coaching staff has put in front them each game.

“Big pride to Javi Cabello, our assistant coach,” said Estevez. “He has a methodology with the players that he makes the players make the decisions. Then when we train, we show the opponent, how they position themselves, some of the behaviors and they design the set plays in conjunction with him. He gives advice to them, and then after he selects the ones that they have prepared together as a group.

“We always have that situation where the players have to decide. And then I think it is working, it’s working very well. You could see there how they were very sharp in paying attention on where the situation is and how we can hurt them.”

Jesus on a mission

We’ve said a few times this season how it appears that Ferreira is having a special season. Yes, the first goal was quick thinking on his part and Arriola’s part but the second goal was something that could ignite this group into the playoffs.

Maybe a bit of a bend on it. Maybe a deflection along the way. Maybe Maxime Crépeau is confused at what the hell Gareth Bale is doing on the play. Whatever the case may be, it is a big-time goal from a guy that is only 21 years old.

“Jesus is a player that always is pushing and I think I remember when he got to 10, and I talked with him and said, now another 10,” said Estevez.

LAFC didn’t make it easy on him though in the night either. Given the early red card to former FC Dallas player Ryan Hollingshead, the focus of the game was to spread out LAFC as much as possible and try to find ways to get Ferreria in that space behind the defense. It didn’t really come on the run of play for anyone on the night, let alone Ferreira. Still, Ferreria is looking like a guy that is primed to score at least 20 this season, maybe one or two more as he looks to firmly cement his spot on this year’s World Cup roster in Qatar with the United States.

Playoff atmosphere and in control

Saturday night was the sixth sellout of the season at Toyota Stadium. I’d be hard-pressed to find any season at the Frisco venue that had six sellouts. So kudos to the club for making that happen this year. I know a couple of the early-season sellouts didn’t exactly look the part but last night definitely did and it did so without fireworks or a drone show.

The players noticed too.

“It was nuts,” said defender Nkosi Tafari. “It was probably the best game I’ve ever played at Toyota Stadium. The fans were absolutely rocking it.”

“It was amazing, honestly,” said Arriola. “I saw the crowd doing things that I hadn’t seen them do before. It was super loud and fantastic to see all the fans go crazy.”

Now the club has three games left on the season and in a way are in a good spot to not only get into the playoffs but secure a home playoff spot as well. Nashville tied their game early in the day with the LA Galaxy, Seattle beat up on Austin to put Dallas just two points within second place, RSL came away with a draw against DC at home and Portland downed Minnesota.

“We’re in a position right now where we control our own fate,” said Tafari. “Back when you play in tournaments as a kid in the academy, you look at these things and see the numbers, see if you can make it in. But when you control your own fate, it is a beautiful thing. You just go out and win and it doesn’t matter what else happens with Minnesota, Nashville, or anyone.”

Controlling that destiny or fate as Tafari put it is a nice place to be with three games to go. Yes, FCD has two more road games to deal with but given the list of opponents (at San Jose, at Colorado, and home to SKC), there is no reason this team shouldn’t go unbeaten heading into the playoffs.