Pérez’s late goal gives FC Dallas 2-1 win over Toronto FC (video)


When Issey Nakajima-Farran scored early in Frisco, Tex., the Reds’ visit to Toyota Stadium was shaping up to be another Ryan Nelsen Special: Score first; slowly retreat, destroying anything that approaches; bunker late and hold on for dear life. Thanks to Dallas’s continued mastery of set pieces, however, Óscar Pereja’s team was able to comeback, lengthening its lead at the top of the Western Conference. With a 2-1 win on Saturday night, FCD handed Toronto its third loss of the season, extending its lead over second place Colorado to five in the process.

Toronto went up in the 21st minute through some set piece magic of its own, the chaos off the second ball into the box giving Nakajima-Farran two cracks from the left of the area. Chris Seitz did well no the first, his save punched wide of the crowd in the middle. Unfortunately, the ball went back to Nakajima-Farran, whose second crack got help from a deflection at the edge of the six-yard box.

Eight minutes before halftime, Dallas was back even, with Matt Hedges’ finish off a near-post corner cueing the home side’s second half control. With the exception of the second half’s opening moments, Dallas dictated the rest of the game, building up a 61-39 possession advantage in the process. But chances for Fabian Castillo and David Texeira couldn’t capitalize on that advantage, with Toronto nearly claiming its own lead against the run of play through Jackson in the 54th minute.

As the game approached full-time, the Nelsen Plan was about to earn a point, yet the same type of set piece chaos that helped Toronto take an early lead eventually led to their downfall. After a restart from just inside the Reds’ half was lofted into the area by Michel, headers from Stephen Keel and Hedges eventually found Blas Pérez, whose lunging poke at a ball in the six-yard box beat César for the game’s final goal.

Though Toronto is still without Jermain Defoe and Doneil Henry, this may have been Dallas’s best performance of the season – overcoming a strong team after conceding an early goal. The team seems a bit too dependent on set piece execution (only five of the team’s 17 goals have come from open play), but there’s a resourcefulness to its play that’s encouraging. Though Seattle showed lifting Dallas to the heights of the league’s 2014 elite is premature, they continue to win games a variety of days. Tonight, after Toronto went full Nelsen, they proved capable of beating a team they couldn’t run through.

Toronto, however, has got to start getting a little less risk averse. On a night where teams are reminding us how tenuous a one-goal lead can be (here, here), Nelsen was far too content to relying on the slimmest of margins. TFC wasn’t ahead when it conceded int he 88th minute, but the team was close to a road point that would have satisfied Nelsen.

While beating Seattle and Columbus, the Reds showed they’re not only able to play with some of the league’s better sides but capable of getting a second goal. Against D.C. United and Dallas, however, they’ve proved less willing to leverage their talent. At home, against an inferior opponent, they got a 1-0 win last month. On the road, against a team that’s shown some vulnerabilities at the back, they could have used a more balanced approach.

MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 1-1 Los Angeles Galaxy

Robbie Keane
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Los Angeles Galaxy became the second team in the Western Conference to clinch a berth in the playoffs following a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders. A terrible mistake from Seattle defender Zach Scott led to an easy goal for Robbie Keane, and it looked like that would be the winner until deep into stoppage time. In the 93rd minute, Chad Barrett got his knee on a corner kick to save a draw for Seattle, although the point was enough for LA. The Galaxy join FC Dallas as the two Western Conference teams headed to the postseason.

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Three moments that mattered

36′ — Robbie Keane capitalizes on Seattle’s mistake — Zach Scott misplayed a ball across the Sounders’ back line, as Robbie Keane intercepted the pass and finished one of the easiest goals he’s going to score. A true striker’s goal, Keane doesn’t miss ones like this.

64′ — Steven Gerrard denied by the woodwork — Los Angeles nearly made it 2-0 right after the hour mark, but Steven Gerrard was just inches off. Gerrard rose up to meet a corner kick from Juninho, but his header took a deflection and hit the crossbar before being cleared out of the box by Seattle.

90’+3′ — Chad Barrett finds a late, late equalizer — Just when it looked like LA was going to leave Seattle with a win, Chad Barrett stole a point for the Sounders. Marco Pappa whipped in a corner kick to the near post, which was flicked on by Brad Evans. Barrett surged into the box and got a knee on the ball as the match ended in a draw.

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Man of the match: Steven Gerrard

Goalscorers: Keane (36′), Barrett (90’+3′)

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

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Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)