FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1 at Toyota Stadium in a tight affair between two Western Conference teams Saturday night.
Ryan Hollingshead scored the game-winner in the 82nd minute. Midfielder Thomas Roberts found substitute Zdenek Ondrasek in the box. “The Cobra” took a shot, forcing a save out of Tim Howard, but Hollingshead pounced on the rebound and scored for the 2-1 lead.
While his goal wasn’t flashy, it provided a sense of relief for Dallas, as the team bounced back from its first loss of 2019 last weekend.
“That was a huge sense of relief,” rightback Reggie Cannon said. “Not only that we had the game in our favor again, ultimately off a set piece we were disappointed to give away that goal. On that goal, we were just ecstatic. That really takes a load off the game that we had.”
Dallas got off to a quick start with two chances. In the 3rd minute, Pablo Aranguiz found Dominique Badji on a corner kick, passing him the ball at the top of the box. Badji lined up the shot, striking the post and going out of play.
Two minutes later, Paxton Pomykal received a ball after a give-and-go with Michael Barrios. Pomykal attempted to slot the shot past Howard, but it was saved.
FCD broke through in the 35th minute off great build-up play. After passes from the back, Badji found Jesus Ferreira, who took a touch in the box before locating Barrios in the box. Barrios took on Keegan Rosenberry before firing a near-post effort that took a slight touch and beat Howard to make it 1-0.
The team was forced to switch systems with players out for international duty. Instead of playing with three No. 8’s, Dallas inserted Pablo Aranguiz into the starting lineup, with a true No. 10.
“You gain something and you lose something,” Luchi Gonzalez said. “You gain in terms of a player that is behind the midfield line to create. I thought Pablo did really, really well. He was a little fatigued, that’s why we made the adjustment. Pablo can have his head up high for a very good performance that helped us create a lot. Paxton was playing in a double six role but he’s really also a support piece going forward. We changed the triangle knowing Paxton was going to venture and go and Edwin would slide and become single pivot. It’s a way that we have to try and take advantage of.”
Pomykal’s role was different than before. Instead of pushing up as much, he had to balance his decision making, not being the most attacking player on the pitch.
“Obviously, Carlos and Bryan are gone, two of our key guys in the midfield,” Pomykal said. “We had to change up a little bit of the tactics this week and go two sixes and a 10. I had to balance it today and pick and choose my times to get forward and ultimately my role was to be there with Edwin and get behind the ball but also, when I can, get in and attack and create. It was just a process for me to pick and choose my times going forward and I thought I did a good job in the first half. In the second half, a little bit less going forward and just maintaining possession and doing a good job.”
Colorado answered in the second half with the help of VAR. Jack Price played a ball into the box off a free kick and Kei Kamara went up to meet it, heading the ball and hitting the post. A scrambling Jesse Gonzalez was out of the frame as Tommy Smith got a knee on the ball, attempting to put it in the open net. Gonzalez recovered, but it was too late. Video review determined the ball crossed the line, giving Colorado the equalizer in the 69th minute.
The win for Dallas puts the team on seven points, with another home victory at the helm. The hunger for the team was there to finish and see out the result, even when it seemed like the game was destined for a draw.
“I’m looking at our boys and I’m looking at them in the eyes and they’re looking at me, and they kinda knew that they thought it had gone in and they’re already thinking about the next moment,” Gonzalez said. “They were looking at me like ‘We got this coach. We’re gonna push to win this game.’ That gave me a lot of pride as a coach, as a teacher to see them push and find a way.”
FC Dallas will travel to Real Salt Lake next Saturday, while the Colorado Rapids will travel home to play the Dynamo.