The playoffs system failed by having 2 teams of their caliber facing off in the first round. However, fans are lucky enough to be treated to 2 games between two of the best teams in the league.
The game was always going to be decided in the center. The match hinged on which team could contain their opponent’s playmaker best. Javier Morales was lined up in front of Kyle Beckerman, while David Ferreira was lined up in front of 2CM’s: Daniel Hernandez and Dax McCarty. However, when the game began, both teams were playing a high line with the wind blowing north. Real Salt Lake’s long passes were getting held up in the wind. Still, Espindola fought to get onto a long pass and punished the defense, curling a shot past Rimando. RSL was ferociously marking Ferreira for the first part of the match. Beckerman was in his pocket. When he got away from Beckerman then RSL’s defenders were giving him a rough time as well. Dallas was not marking Morales near as tight. He roamed free much of the time.
Ferreira fought his way into plays. He even dropped all the way to the back line once or twice just to get on the ball. When he did get into space he made things happen. He began to put in dangerous balls and get on the end of crosses. Midway through the first half Dallas began to keep the ball more and put pressure on Real Salt Lake’s defense. A lot of the pressure came from Ferreira. In the 44th minute he was able to get on the ball and send a pass into the box that bounced around before Cunningham equalized.
Dallas’s playmaker was making plays. Real Salt Lake’s playmaker was having a hard time getting into the game.
Dallas had a hard time finding Ferreira in the 2nd half. That is when Morales got more involved . . . with a yellow card. That play gained more importance when Morales went in with a high boot for a loose ball catching Dax McCarty in the mouth giving Morales the second of his 2 yellow cards.
Six minutes later, referee Kevin Scott the 2nd red card to Atiba Harris for an incident that many thought warranted a yellow card at most.
“I just saw him win the header, 100%” Hernandez said of the play. “I think has been a problem, always, is he gives a red card to compensate and look for a reason to give us a red card.”
As the field opened up Dallas had the strength in the center. It was now Hernandez, McCarty, and Ferreira against Beckerman. Ferreira was now able to find the game again. Hyndman went for the win inserting Avila.
Just a minute later Ferreira made a great run into the center and was fouled, but Scott gave the advantage. Avila picked up the ball, lined up a shot, and gave FC Dallas the win sending the supporters into a frenzy. Dallas gets criticized for attendance, but they should not get criticized for lack of atmosphere.
Was it a good omen that native Texan Clint Dempsey began the day with 2 goals?
The match was decided by strength in the center. 2 playmakers began the game on the field: David Ferreira and Javier Morales. 2 playmakers finished the game on the field: David Ferreira and Eric Avila.