NYCFC, the top team in the Eastern Conference, entered the match eyeing a chance to move closer to clinch the top seed. FC Dallas needed a result to continue being in the Western Conference playoff race.
It was not the ideal start for FCD, as the team was caught off-guard early by an eager NYCFC side.
New York City opened the scoring within the first minute of the match, pressing FC Dallas and forcing a turnover. Fullback Anton Tinnerholm played a ball into the box and Taty Castellanos pounced on it, putting in the back of the net to make it 1-0.
“We didn’t do anything we talked about the first play,” FC Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez said. “So, we were reacting and they scored. Took us 25-30 minutes to shake it off. It was important that we didn’t concede again quickly because they could’ve scored again and that’s credit to Jesse [Gonzalez] and the backline had literally saved us on some plays.”
Dallas withstood early pressure from NYCFC as Tinneholm was through and had another attempt, forcing a big save out of Gonzalez in the 13th minute. It was a poor early 30 minutes for Dallas, which adjusted to the opponent’s press and added some energy.
“We changed our press in the water break before halftime,” Gonzalez said. “In the second half, I felt like we pushed the game, got a lot of crosses. I love these guys. They always respond. They’re not perfect, there’s going to be mistakes. We know the first play and the first 20 minutes are unacceptable for our standards, but the boys stuck together and found a way to get back into the game and pushed in the second half. We lost the first half, but won the second half.”
FC Dallas equalized in the 66th minute off a quick press from midfielder Paxton Pomykal, who forced NYCFC midfielder Alexander Ring into losing the ball. Zdenek Ondrasek, the hero for many recent matches, chased the loose ball and slotted the effort past Sean Johnson to level the match at one.
Sep 22, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges (24) and goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez (1) defend against New York City FC midfielder Alexander Ring (8) during the first half at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
“Everybody was together in the second half, pressing,” Pomykal said. “You saw Sean Johnson was just chilling on the ball, trying to waste a little time, trying to be cute, and they got punished for it. At the end of the day, it could’ve been Jesus [Ferreira], it could’ve been me, but that’s our philosophy and our mentality and it worked out for us.”
FC Dallas now sits in sixth place in the Western Conference, jumping ahead of the San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Timbers, who both have a game in hand.
However, with a sense of urgency and desire to reach the playoffs, FC Dallas knows six is the number of points to secure a playoff spot and that is the goal heading into the final matches of the season.
“We can’t depend on the Minnesota result or LA or San Jose, whatever happens there is going to happen,” Gonzalez said. “We can’t be high or low about it. We need to focus on our job 100 percent.”
“We could’ve had another [goal] to get three points,” Matt Hedges said. “One point is one point. At this point, we know we had results go our way, so we get another chance.”