The Designated Players from both teams took a backseat to less heralded teammates Saturday night as goals from Tesho Akindele and Michel propelled Dallas to a 2-1 home win.
Fouls – 35 total – marred the first-ever visit of NYCFC to FC Dallas. Both teams continue heading in opposite directions in their respective conferences, with FC Dallas tallying their third win a row, while NYCFC recorded a third straight loss.
FC Dallas mustered the best scoring chances early on, but could not convert. NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders produced a key save in the third minute from a top-of-the-box half volley by Michel and later came off his line to snuff out a Fabian Castillo breakaway.
Passing turnovers and fouls around the box by FC Dallas gave NYCFC their best scoring opportunities of the first half. Frank Lampard intercepted an errant Fabian Castillo pass in the 14th minute, but blasted his resulting shot over the crossbar. Five minutes later, Andrea Pirlo’s free kick on the left edge of the box forced FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez to make an outstretched save. Otherwise, NYCFC mounted little first half attack with Dallas’ center back pair of Matt Hedges and Zach Loyd reading and neutralizing threats with marked accuracy.
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At the half hour mark, the action turned contentious with a controversial non-call after Pirlo tripped David Texeira from behind near the top of the NYCFC box and moments later, a yellow card to Dallas right back Atiba Harris for a similarly harsh tackle on David Villa. In the 33rd minute, Kelyn Acosta inadvertently nicked Lampard with an elbow as the two jostled for a header. Lampard required a head bandage to patch the resulting wound.
In the 45th minute, Tesho Akindele ran onto a long pass from Michel and fired from a tight angle to net his fifth goal of the year. Three minutes into first half stoppage time, Michel curled in a corner kick that somehow slipped through the crowded goalmouth and past Saunders to make it 2-0. For Michel and Akindele, this match marked just their eleventh start of the season.
In the second half, the fouling trend continued from both teams. NYCFC ratcheted up their attacking pressure after Mix Diskerud replaced Pirlo and Kwadwo Poku replaced Lampard (both in the 66th minute). From that point on, NYCFC forced Dallas deep into their own half to defend a steady stream of shots and corner kicks.
In the 69th minute, Atiba Harris obstructed Ned Grabavoy in the box, sending Grabavoy to the ground and earning NYCFC a controversial penalty. Patrick Mullins scored the spot kick, reducing his side’s deficit to 2-1.
The last quarter hour was all NYCFC. Dallas brought in Ryan Hollingshead and Walker Zimmerman to reinforce their sagging defense which, combined with several Gonzalez saves, was just enough in the end to secure the three points.
The win boosts FC Dallas to second place in the Western Conference with 47 points, one point behind Vancouver Whitecaps. New York City FC sits in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 28 points, still three points below the sixth playoff spot.
NYCFC will host Toronto FC this Wednesday, September 16 on ESPN2. Dallas travel to Sporting Kansas City next Friday, September 18 on UniMas (live on fuboTV).
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