FRISCO, Tx. — FC Dallas defeated the LA Galaxy 2-0 at Toyota Stadium on Saturday, as the team won its first competitive match under new coach Luchi Gonzalez as the visitors played without injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The win marks another milestone for Gonzalez, who continues his evolution from academy director to head coach of the first team. The team is growing in its understanding of his philosophies of wanting possession and pressing to win the ball back. Dallas dictated the ball, owning 64.1 percent of it. Gonzalez acknowledged FC Dallas may have gotten lucky with the Galaxy’s injury report, but was still proud of the overall performance.
“They grew that belief in the last game in terms of what we worked on during the week to improve,” Gonzalez said. “With the ball, what we do with it, our shape, our transitions and it led to us getting a win today. We have to be really proud of the boys and their willingness for us to be critical and to take steps about how we wanted to play and what we needed going into this game against LA, who we respected a lot.”
However, even with the win, not everything is positive. Right back Reggie Cannon went down in the 42nd minute after an awkward challenge, resulting in a sprained ankle. Details are still being sorted out on his injury, but Cannon wore a boot after the match.
“It’s good that he’s moving and not in the hospital,” Gonzalez said. “I think the boot is there to keep swelling down. It seems like some sort of ankle sprain. I’m really proud of him for trying to push through it and trying to activate, but it was already swollen so credit to his bravery and credit to Marquinho [Pedroso] for coming on and showing the ability to integrate into the game quickly and get a result today.”
New designated player Bryan Acosta opened his account for the team with an outstanding effort in the 61st minute.
Acosta received the ball from Paxton Pomykal, who went down the left flank and played the ball in centrally. Acosta hit the ball on the half-volley and with the outside of his foot, putting it by LA goalkeeper David Bingham to make it 2-0.
“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a red shirt at the top of the box,” Pomykal said. “I didn’t know who it was, but I just wanted to play it there and he looked wide open and he was. It was a helluva goal too.”
Mar 9, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas defender Reto Ziegler (3) celebrates his second half goal off a penalty kick against LA Galaxy at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Pomykal was one of the stronger performers for FCD, being put into the starting lineup after a Jacori Hayes injury last week. Pomykal was all over the pitch, including pressing back to win the ball. There was an instance where the 19-year-old recovered the ball and drew a foul, stopping a Galaxy attack.
“It’s a part of the game,” Pomykal said when asked why he prides himself on his pressing ability. “The game is two ways, attacking and defending. My role on the team is to do both. It’s not as fun as attacking, but that’s the only way to get the ball is to defend and press and get the ball back so if you look at it that way, it’s kind of fun.”
Dallas started the second half with a goal as well, with Matt Hedges being kicked in the chest by Galaxy defender Diego Polenta. Now a co-captain, center back Reto Ziegler stepped up to the penalty spot and slotted it past Bingham for a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute.
Efrain Alvarez almost scored his MLS goal if it was not for FCD ‘keeper Jesse Gonzalez. Alvarez dribbled through the defense, megging Hedges, attempted a shot that looked destined for goal. Gonzalez got his fingertips on it to push the shot over and keep the clean sheet in stoppage time.
The second half had the goals, but the first half provided plenty of action. Both teams had multiple chances to take early leads, but squandered them.
In the 36th minute, Michael Barrios attempted a pass, which took a couple of deflections before falling into Dominique Badji’s path. As Badji attempted to round Bingham, the keeper reached out for the ball, pushing Badji off balance. Badji lined up the shot, but did not get it on frame with an open net, falling over and pushing the shot wide.
The visitors best chance of the opening 45 minutes came when Uriel Antuna found right back Rolf Feltscher, who was awaiting at the back post and hit the shot one time, rattling the post as the dawn of halftime.
FC Dallas will travel to MAPFRE Stadium to take on the Columbus Crew on March 16. The Galaxy will return home, where the team will play Minnesota United on March 16.