FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas dominated a depleted Toronto FC 3-0 Saturday night at Toyota Stadium.
Dominque Badji played his best match of the season, finishing with a brace and doubling his total goals for the MLS season.
Badji’s first attempt was a chance sequence of events. Forward Jesus Ferriera took an attempt that looked goal-bound. Out of almost instinct, Badji tapped in the shot and immediately put his hands up, hoping he was onside. On first glance, it seemed as if the video assistant referee was going to call back the score due to offsides, but a closer look showed that TFC defenders Laurent Ciman and Justin Morrow were keeping the player onside in the 41st minute.
“I was in the box, the ball came to me,” Badji said. “I didn’t know if Jesus hit it on target or not so you know, make sure it got in. I’ll take care of him. I’ll get him a nice steak dinner.”
The 26-year-old scored one more, this one with an intentional purpose. A ball from Barrios found Paxton Pomykal and led the break. Ferriera was in the position to connect the ball to Badji, who took a touch and curled it past Westberg to give him his second goal of the match.
It’s a big moment for Badji, whose adaptation to the winger role under coach Luchi Gonzalez has not always been easy but is beginning to show dividends later on in the season.
“Badji has been open since preseason to learn and to develop,” Gonzalez said. “He started as a nine and we’ve shifted him out into the wing, late preseason and it hasn’t been easy, for his adjustment. He hasn’t played a lot there in his career but he continues to challenge himself to pick up little things and be open and try things. I thought today was an example of being a player with that can develop and has a higher ceiling that maybe myself or maybe even he thought in the preseason. He can score at the wing. He can score at the nine. It makes him more versatile, increases his value, makes him more complete.”
Along with Badji’s strong performance, the team saw the return of midfield engine Paxton Pomykal, who continued to show his value to FC Dallas (7-6-4, 25 points). His effort on the match was exemplified with a run that saw him shrug past two Toronto defenders en route to creating an opportunity.
“It feels good that our chances turn into goals,” Pomykal said. “Three-zero as well as the clean sheet? That’s huge. Guys in the back and Jesse as well, it’s big to get zero goals against a team like Toronto. Hats off to them. Guys are finishing, putting the balls into the back of the net, and I think we could’ve had four, five, six today if we put away our chances.”
Jun 22, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; Toronto FC midfielder Jay Chapman (14) controls the ball as FC Dallas midfielder Michael Barrios (21) defends during the first half at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas added a goal right after halftime. A corner kick from Michael Barrios ended up finding the head of Bressan, whose bullet header beat Quentin Westberg, giving the team a comfortable 2-0 lead in the 51st minute.
After a difficult 2-1 midweek defeat against New Mexico United in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the team was happy to turn its frustrations into a positive performance against a shorthanded Toronto FC (5-7-4, 19 points) side. However, the win shows how deep the team is, being without two key players in midfielders Carlos Gruezo and Bryan Acosta.
“Just coming out here, we owed to everyone and ourselves and to the fans to get the three points today,” midfielder Edwin Cerrillo said. “That was our mentality from the start. From Thursday in training, we’re going to channel all of our emotions onto today. It’s a big relief to get the three points today. A good team and tough conditions but we got the job done.”
FC Dallas will play midweek in Frisco against the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 26. Toronto will return home to play Atlanta United on June 26. as well.