By Rees Linn
Marvin Chavez was on target twice as FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls finished level at two goals apiece on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. Amid the hype of international friendlies the contest provided a true clash of MLS heavyweights, as both clubs entered the match in the top three of their respective conferences.
New York welcomed the return of Rafael Marquez to central defense, who’d been missing since Gold Cup duty for Mexico, and his presence immediately impacted the game plans of both teams. With Marvin Chavez providing a legitimate speed threat, Marquez was crucial in organizing a defense that was shredded by Sanna Nyassi against Colorado a week earlier.
Further affecting Dallas’s game plan was the absence of Jackson from right midfield. The Brazilian, who’d been enjoying a fantastic run of form opposite Brek Shea, missed the match due to yellow card accumulation.
Overall the play on the pitch was lively throughout the first half. At times, both squads struggled to maintain possession, but neither side was devoid of quality build-up play in the first half, although New York’s attack seemed the more dynamic of the two. The target play from Agudelo, the wide play of Richards, and the overlapping fullbacks seemed to be the catalysts for the hosts.
What was a fairly even encounter turned in favor of New York during the final ten minutes of the first half, and the Red Bulls capitalized through Juan Agudelo in the 39th minute to take a 1-0 lead.
Dallas leveled in the 51st after a quick passing combination saw Marvin Chavez clear to finish past Rost. Level at 1-1 and the match up for grabs, Dallas carried a slight edge in terms of momentum, and in the 78th minute, after the ball fortuitously fell to him on a set piece, Chavez slotted home what looked to be the game winner for the visitors.
Following Chavez’s strike, the game took on a new sense of urgency for the hosts, and their efforts paid off in the 85th minute when Thierry Henry brought down a beautiful ball from Dax McCarty, created space for himself to his left, and sublimely placed the ball past Hartman from just over 20 yards.
After collecting four points on their two game road trip to the Northeast, Dallas should feel relatively confident entering into Champions League qualification on Thursday in San Salvador, El Salvador against Alianza FC.