Better Late Than Never: FC Dallas Defeats Austin FC at Home
I was in Dallas at DFW airport, literally on the tarmac, about to shut off my phone when Tafari headed in a late miracle to get a huge three points. What a night.
Following and covering FC Dallas is always an experience.
I had flown into Dallas Saturday evening from a work trip, turning the game on in about the 4th minute as I wandered around the airport to find my connecting flight back home. (Side note: Why is there no Whataburger in the DFW airport? Shame.)
As the game wore on, a little despair and exhaustion settled in. Would I have to wait two hours to see if FC Dallas was able to find a clutch late goal? And with the way the game unfolded, a cagey affair where neither team was able to completely to take control of things, my mind was already thinking about what to write. A draw is hardly the end of the world in this league, and the game was definitely heading for a draw, even after Daniel Perreira earned his second yellow on a bad tackle to make things extra interesting.
Then, as my plane was poised to get into takeoff position, Tafari delivered again, a miracle header from a Marco Farfan long ball, one of those moments we have come to expect from the guy, and enough to send FC Dallas fans into glory.
I was able to go into airplane mode with contentment. Dallas had found a way.
Of course, looking back at this match, there was a lot to be frustrated about from the home team’s side of things.
Jesus Ferreira was out with an illness, and the team missed him. Jesus Jimenez has yet to make a claim for being an option long term for Dallas, and that’s something that needs to change sooner rather than later. Eugene Ansah looks like a savvy signing and had his moments, but he was also in for a few fouls that helped Austin slow the game down.
After a high scoring Leagues Cup run, the offense really came back to earth in this match, which was a let down.
The midfield wasn’t up to the match, despite a lot of work. In some cases, it wasn’t their fault. Austin FC were focused on crowding out Quignon and Lletget’s options. Couple that with a so-so performance from Bernard Kamungo, and it’s hard to work a miracle. I imagine Ferreira would have really opened up space for other players.
Losing Geovane Jesus to an injury was also detrimental, as while Ema Twumasi is a solid defensive option, he has never translated his offensive game to this level.
Many things were great about the night. FC Dallas’ defense continues to be one of the better in the league. Jose Martinez did not make a dumb foul or decision that he is prone to do, and Nkosi Tafari is a lock starter at this point in his career. The front office needs to sign him to a contract extension sooner rather than later, in my opinion.
While the midfield may have struggled to get the ball into attacking positions, they were solid in keeping Austin to limited opportunities. In fact, the best attacking option came late when Austin was down to ten men. Facundo Quignon is a mainstay for this lineup, though we do give some credit to Illaramendi on an excellent debut. Velasco is dangerous too, but this was a match where he didn’t have enough options in the final third.
Maarten Paes continues to be one of the best keepers in the league and deservedly earned the clean sheet.
The biggest thing, beyond staying in the Copa Tejas hunt, is that FC Dallas got a huge three points to kickstart the rest of the season. And they found a way when the soccer doesn’t come smoothly to grind out a result. Tafari has become one of their big players who they can turn to in a crucial moment. The late goal gives the whole team life.
Now the team will turn around quickly to travel to St Louis City FC and keep the momentum going.
But for now, I’ll keep that feeling of contentment on hand, sitting on the plane on the tarmac, knowing I saw once again that this team can be something special.
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