FC Dallas dropped a 2-1 decision to the Chicago Fire Wednesday night at Toyota Park.
The Fire and FC Dallas seemed destined to end the first half scoreless, thanks to two saves from veteran goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, but rookie center back Matt Hedges broke up the deadlock with his first professional goal in the 41st minute of play. The goal came off a corner kick that was earned by some nice interplay between Jackson and Andrew Jacobson.
After Jacobson had his subsequent shot blocked out of play and over the end line, Homegrown player Bryan Leyva lobbed the corner kick high to the back post. There, Blas Perez beat his marker and headed a strong shot back towards the left post. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson came up with a spectacular save to deny Perez of his fifth goal of the season, but the ball fell directly to Hedges, who finished off the chance with a short header.
Chicago returned fire just four minutes later when Marco Pappa broke free of his defender and slotted a ball in to Grazzini in the center of the pitch. Grazzini took a touch towards the top of the area before bending a perfectly placed shot into the upper corner of the net to level the score 1-1 in the 45th minute.
FC Dallas made two changes at the half, bringing on Carlos Rodriguez for George John and Bruno Guarda for James Marcelin. Guarda immediately impacted the game, earning Dallas a penalty kick just six minutes into the second half after collecting a loose ball and dribbling into the area. Guarda was taken down in the area by a Fire defender, prompting referee Hilario Grajeda to point to the spot. Perez opted to take the kick, firing a low strike to Johnson’s right side, but once again the Fire goalkeeper came up with a save, knocking the shot over the end line for a corner kick.
The Fire earned a penalty kick of its own in the 63rd minute after Pappa went to ground in the area after colliding with Dallas’ Rodriguez and Zach Loyd. Grazzini stepped to the spot to take the kick, knocking a low shot towards the center of the goal. Hartman was there, waiting to slap the shot away, but unfortunately for Dallas, Pappa was the first to the loose ball. He hammered a shot into the empty net from six-yards out to give Chicago the 2-1 lead.
Dallas pressed for an equalizer for the remainder of the match. Its best opportunity to find the back of the net came in the 90th minute when a cross played into the area by Jair Benitez was deflected to Perez at the far post. Perez struck a first-touch volley that was partially blocked by a Fire defender, but the ricochet still came within inches of catching the back post before going out for a corner kick.