The second that Kellyn Acosta’s challenge landed on the stomach of Andy Rose for the Sounders, there was a sudden feeling of uneasiness that swept through my mind. Even though advantage was played, you still had the feeling that the ref would pull it back and give the card.
Let’s be honest; Acosta’s challenge was most certainly a red card. It’s the very definition of a reckless, dangerous challenge: studs up and way too high. When the play had finished and the ref brandished the red card, in my mind, it felt like the end to this incredible run by FC Dallas.
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Three games of stellar play, I thought, were about to erased because of a rash challenge early in an important game. Playing over 70 minutes with a man disadvantage against an offensively gifted Sounders team sure seemed like a recipe for disaster to me.
Up-keeping with the spirit of this year’s team, however, the remaining 1o players on the pitch for FCD put on an incredible display over the final 3/4 of the game. Rather than lying in the fetal position and absorbing every Seattle attack until the cows came home, FCD seemed to never miss a beat.
When they lost possession moving forward, they were quick to get back into position so as to not leave their teammates vulnerable at the back. When they won the ball in their defensive half, they countered with pace and nearly caught Seattle on the break a few times. But for the crossbar, FCD could have won this game.
In truth, for the better part of the final 70 minutes, Dallas looked like the better team, man disadvantage aside. You almost got the feeling that they were going to steal a goal and pull off an improbable win under the circumstances. Even though that never happened, this game felt like more of a win than any of Dallas’ other three games, barring maybe the SKC game.
I had someone tell me after game one against the Earthquakes that the best thing about this team is that they never give up. Whether it’s the 90th minute in the first game of the season or the final 70 minutes of a critical home game against defending Supporter’s Shield holders Seattle, this team always seems to do what it needs to do to get the job done.
A particularly bright spot in this game was the tireless play of Ryan Hollingshead. With Acosta vacating one of the fullback positions, Hollingshead at times appeared to be playing a wingback role, a position we have never seen him play. His work rate, coupled with his ability to play seemingly anywhere on the pitch, earned him man of the match in my eyes. To say that the kid is versatile would be an understatement.
A game like this could have done a world of hurt to the morale of this squad. But, like every other obstacle they’ve faced this season, FC Dallas took it in stride and turned what could have been a catastrophic result into a remarkable point. While it’s only 1 point in the standings, Oscar Pareja and FC Dallas will feel like they won on Saturday.
They’ll take this result and build on what truly was a vitally important performance. It could have and maybe should have been a disaster (they almost seem due for one with how they’ve been playing). Thankfully, when you couple a desire to win, regardless of the circumstance, with an incredible coach and talented players, you get a team with the ability to churn out a result against the odds.
It’s a good time to be an FC Dallas fan, folks. Hop on the bandwagon; there’s still plenty of room. It’s only going to get better from here!