FC Dallas Dominates the Galaxy and Secures Playoff Spot
With the 4-1 victory in Los Angeles tonight, including a brace from Bernard Kamungo, FC Dallas has solidified their hold on the 7th spot.
Tonight, LA Galaxy fans lit up their cellphones as stadium lights flashed and shimmered, but that was about all that glittered for the home side as their 2023 season came to an end at the hands of a scintillating FC Dallas.
Bernard Kamungo, in particular, earning the start fresh off a stint with the US Olympic team, scored the fastest goal of the season in the third minute. He added a second minutes later, and the victory was on.
Give credit to Ema Twumasi for notching a rare goal for the defender, and for Jader Obrian, subbing on for Kamungo after an injury, finding a way to get a ball in the back of the net on a Paul Arriola cross.
The first 45 minutes were total domination from FC Dallas, despite a single Los Angeles Galaxy goal. You could sense the relief from the players after a stretch run of games where the team played well but could not find a second crucial goal. Each goal led to the next. Dallas players understood that their playoff destiny was in their control.
The second half showed effort from the Galaxy players who came out with some adjustments to their tactics and looked threatening, but the capable saves of Maarten Paes fended off attempts to make the game tighter. The back line put on a master class of defending with excellent decisions and interventions. It was the closest to a complete performance from the team since the Inter Miami matchup in the Leages Cup.
With San Jose mustering a draw against lowly Austin FC, FC Dallas was able to leapfrog them in the standings and avoid a play-in game later this week.
I asked FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez after the game about what changed this week coming off of a disappointing home draw.
“The most important thing - we showed the players how much we love them,” the coach said, acknowledging the pressure the guys were facing after several results hadn’t gone their way.
The comment conjures comparisons to fictional soccer coach Ted Lasso, finding ways to manage and affirm players as human beings when the results on the field are disappointing.
The team responded to such love.
The coach also spoke with confidence in how the team has played in recent away matches, setting them up nicely to face one of the toughest defenses in the league in the Seattle Sounders.
The downer for the game has to be the status of Bernard Kamungo who came off after a tough foul and spill to the turf. His status will be updated later this week, but there is a sliver of hope that it is not serious.
“I think it is important to know he is a young player. He is still developing. He has a lot of room to improve. It shows what his character and mentality is as a person and player. He goes out and competes. He is helping the team,” Estevez said about Bernard’s contribution and growth.
A few questions linger after the match, but FC Dallas can now take a big breath and focus on the playoffs. It’s like a whole new season.
The playoff schedule should be released Monday evening.
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