MLS Review: FC Dallas vs Orlando City Ends Goalless

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FC Dallas will leave Orlando with a point after a wild match in the heat and humidity of central Florida. Both sides knowing full well that maximum points are a must, Dallas and Orlando City fought tooth and nail for the win. As the match wore on it seemed there would be a winner, but it was not meant to be. Both goalkeepers played pivotal roles in the draw, almost matching each other save for save.

MLS Review: FC Dallas Vs Orlando City Ends Goalless

Strong First Half for Dallas

FC Dallas came out on the front foot in the first half and looked strong again. Initially with the same lineup from Wednesday night, they looked to press early and attack quickly and often. But a pre-match injury to Michael Barrios forced Tesho Akindele back into the starting XI.

Dallas’ playmaker Mauro Diaz would have the first chance early on but could not connect.  A great cross in from Javi Morales found Diaz in the box, but Diaz chose to try a diving header instead of using his strong-suited right foot. The ball would trickle wide, but it was no more than two minutes later that Dallas would be in the Orlando box. Tesho Akindele found himself pushing down the left flank and into the box, but was defended well and on his weaker left foot. His left-footed shot still forced Joe Bendik into a quick diving save for a restart.

The Orlando keeper was kept busy later on in the half, as Mauro Diaz struck a free kick from about 23 yards away. Bendik read it and dove well to his right and parried the shot away. Both teams would eventually head into the locker rooms deadlocked at 0.

Second Half Hysteria

Dallas would look to keep their foot on the gas in the second half. No more than ten minutes in, Mauro Diaz again found himself inside the box after a beautiful whipped in cross. But Bendik was there again with help from defender Donny Toia, and nothing was to come of it.

Dallas seemed to be suffering as the game wore on though, and Orlando would begin to press. Oscar Pareja found himself having to make injury substitutions instead of tactical ones on two occasions, having to replace Hernan Grana and Roland Lamah.

Dallas would be calling for VAR once again late into the second half. Kellyn Acosta found himself at the top of the 18 after a half clearance, but his was shot blocked inside the box.  Dallas quickly began yelling for a handball, but play continued until a foul was drawn.  Replays showed that the defender’s arm was away from his body and stopped the ball’s progress, but PRO and the fourth official did not call for a review.

One thing Dallas has suffered most on this season, offensively and defensively, has been set pieces. Orlando looked dangerous on every free kick inside 40 yards, and lethal on corners. Jesse Gonzalez was forced into making numerous diving saves late on, including using his face to parry away a long range shot. A 75th minute free kick forced Jesse into a diving save and forced a corner, and was a telling sign that we were in for a wild finish.

Extra Extra Time

It seemed inevitable that Orlando would find a winner late on. The tables had quickly turned, and Dallas found themselves on the back foot defending. You could see the exhaustion in the Dallas’ faces, and weak defending on crosses nearly cost them. Orlando stepped up and hounded the Dallas back line, several chances missing by what seemed centimeters. Several delays in the match would lead this one into nearly 100 minutes of play counting stoppage time. Orlando had a flurry of late corners, and each one feeling more dangerous than the last. But it just wasn’t meant to be, and eventually the final whistle was blown.

Both sides can agree that the officiating crew will be heavily scrutinized on this game. But there will be no turning back, as both sides look forward to October. Dallas will head to Colorado next Saturday for what they hope will be three points. Orlando will have the week off, but will play host to Columbus on the 15th in a big home match.

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