By Rees Linn
FC Dallas tallied late to edge Chivas USA in a hard fought match at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night. The North Texas club produced goals from Brek Shea and Jackson Goncalves to win 2-1 and avoid a second straight defeat after having been drubbed by Kansas City a week earlier. Indeed, much was at stake for Dallas, who needed a positive result to reassure players and fans alike that the team was still on track and playoff bound.
The match began with the intensity expected from two teams with something to prove, and the front pairs of each club pressured high which kept the ball moving quickly in the early going. The event remained a fairly even encounter with both teams struggling to assert themselves until Dallas struck in the 22nd minute, and the manner in which the goal was scored spoke volumes about the state of the Dallas attack. For all of their pace, Dallas frontrunners Castillo and Chavez have yet to understand how to manipulate defenses and get in behind opposing backlines. As if to show the two strikers how it’s supposed to be done, Shea came centrally from his left midfield position and tip-toed the offside line before rushing onto an early cross from Andrew Jacobson and left footing the ball past Dan Kennedy from the top of the box. The goal marked Shea’s second in as many matches and his sixth this in league play this season.
With his team ahead, Hyndman pulled Chavez to the right side of midfield and pushed Alexander more centrally to create more of a 4-5-1 formation. Despite the switch, Dallas struggled to maintain possession, but when they did it was often through the one and two touch passing of Alexander who looked much more comfortable in the middle.
As the match wore on, the home side began to better assert themselves through the target play of Justin Braun and the wide play of Flores and Mondaini, and Chivas drew level in the 71st minute when Michael Lahoud struck a shot from poorly cleared corner that deflected off of George John and wrong-footed Kevin Hartman.
With the home side clearly in the ascendency it looked as though Dallas would try to fend Chivas off to preserve the draw, but a mistake by Lahoud in the 85th minute allowed Jackson Goncalves to run onto an uncleared ball and coolly place it past Kennedy for the lead. The goal was the Brazilian’s first of the season, and it secured three points that Dallas couldn’t have expected to take after the fantastic play of the home side.
But, even with another three points in the bag Dallas can’t afford to rest on their laurels. They’ll have plenty of soul searching to do in terms of determining why they struggled with possession in the middle of the pitch and whether a permanent switch back to a 4-5-1 might be warranted. With Castillo and Chavez struggling to produce, the old problem of which, if any, of the Dallas strikers should be starting will also be on the mind of the coaching staff. Fortunately for Dallas, this latest win assures that confidence won’t be a problem going into their match against Portland at Pizza Hut Park next weekend.