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Jesse Gonzalez’s big saves help FC Dallas win at Toronto

May 25, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco (10) takes a free kick as FC Dallas defenders form a wall at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas defeated Toronto FC 1-0 on Friday at BMO Field. Led by Jesse Gonzalez’s nine saves, Dallas hung on after an early goal by Maxi Urruti. Here are some takeaways from the match.

Gonzalez earned his spot back

Jesse Gonzalez was the starting goalkeeper for FC Dallas going into the 2018 Major League Soccer season. But a shaky Concacaf Champions League and an injury gave offseason addition Jimmy Maurer a chance to start. Maurer played well to hold the spot until the 2-2  draw against Vancouver, when he allowed a late penalty after clobbering Anthony Blondell. 

That rough game gave Gonzalez another chance between the pipes, and he took advantage of it. He made multiple key stops on Sebastian Giovinco, including a penalty-kick save that would have leveled the match. Gonzalez also made a late tip save on Jonathan Osorio, securing the lead for Dallas in the latter stages. He did all the right things to earn his starting spot back. It’s going to help to know there’s reliability in net, especially with the injury to Anton Nedyalkov and match congestion that will force squad rotation.

A tough, gritty win

Last week, after Dallas blew a 2-0 lead against Vancouver in the last 10-15 minutes of the match, the team sounded and looked defeated. It was a loss that raised many questions, including whether the team knew how to finish.

Friday, Dallas proved it could. The group survived an offensive outburst by Toronto in the early stages and countered with a goal against the run of play. There were moments of worry, especially early on as Toronto beamed up FCD’s left-hand side, attempting to get Auro involved against Maynor Figueroa. It’s what Toronto wanted to do, getting the fullbacks involved in its three-back system. 

Mauro Diaz came on late to provide a presence up top and some fresh legs. He did not do that job well, turning over the ball deep in Dallas’ own half and touching the ball seven times in his 11-minute cameo. Michael Barrios had some chances but, again, just couldn’t finish. 

However, the defense stood tall. Jacori Hayes had a good showing in the three-man midfield and so did Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler. It’s a win the team will look back on as important, especially with the dropped points at home.

Depth test

FC Dallas has four games in 11 days, starting with the Galaxy on Wednesday and ending with Montreal June 9.

Hedges will miss the Galaxy match due to yellow card accumulation and, as mentioned earlier, Nedyalkov is out due to an injury. The backline is going to need to some changing, with Figueroa probably remaining in the starting lineup. The question is, what’s going to happen with the rest of the defense?

Ryan Hollingshead can slot into the left-back role and provide some versatility going forward, much like a wingback. Dallas can also elect to put Jordan Cano, its homegrown from Southern Methodist University, at centerback and leave Figueroa at left back. Figueroa may have difficulty against a player like Romain Alessandrini, but it could make sense with the crowded schedule. 

Expect some sort of midfield rotation as well. The team has five midfielders it can rely on.

One of the most interesting games in the lineup will be Dallas’ U.S. Open Cup match against San Antonio June 6. There may be some faces who have not made appearances before that will get an opportunity in that match to showcase if they belong in the rotation entering the crunch time of the season.

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