Frisco, Texas (July 4, 2018) – North Texas was a hotbed for excitement Wednesday evening. FC Dallas hosted Atlanta United in a sold-out Toyota Stadium ready for fireworks. But most fans would be in awe of the end of this match more than anything. Tesho Akindele’s late-game heroics kept Dallas at the top of the West and made a lot of new supporters in the process.
Tesho Akindele vs Atlanta United – A Fourth of July Extravaganza
FC Dallas returned home after a month of travel and time off. Reto Ziegler would return to the lineup from suspension, as Dallas went back to their 4-4-2 formation. Santiago Mosquera would get the start out wide after a superb second-half performance last week in Minnesota. Dallas would look to force Atlanta to play wide and try to eliminate Miguel Almiron’s speed and control in the midfield.
Well-Balanced First Half
Dallas would look for the counter early and often. Michael Barrios and Santiago Mosquera caused lots of problems early and often for the Atlanta defense. Both sides would have good chances early on, but Jesse Gonzalez would make a point-blank save to keep things level.
The home side inevitably struck first. Before the half-hour hour mark, a perfectly placed free kick by Ziegler left Brad Guzan no chance. A choreographed celebration would ensue as Dallas looked good early on.
— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) July 5, 2018
Atlanta would pull one back just before halftime. Hector Villalba danced around Maynor Figueroa down the right side and found a streaking Josef Martinez in the box. Reggie Cannon couldn’t get across quick enough as Martinez slid in and scored his 16th goal of the season.
Martinez would get his second of the night late on. Miguel Almiron found time and space to turn, the last thing Dallas wanted to let happen. As Almiron approached the top of the 18, Martinez pulled away from Reto Ziegler. Almiron played a through ball that Martinez hit first time past Jesse Gonzalez to jump ahead.
Tesho Akindele Time
Dallas was now down 2-1 just past 70 minutes, and the match now seemed to be slipping away. Oscar Pareja would make a crucial change just a few minutes after Atlanta took the lead. Victor Ulloa would come off in place of Tesho Akindele who would do what he does best: score when it’s needed most.
Ulloa did well defensively the entire match, but now Dallas needed a spark in the attacking final third. And Akindele would be the X-factor in that regard.
With four minutes remaining in regular time, Ryan Hollingshead played a ball forward to Maxi Urruti. Tesho was already wide and began sprinting forward as that ball was played. Maxi neatly flicked the ball between two defenders into Akindele’s stride, and Tesho drove down the field and powered the tying goal home.
The crowd was now in a frenzy, and it felt like Dallas could pull this one back. Just two minutes later, the stadium would erupt again.
Michael Barrios whipped in a cross which was not properly cleared. The ball fell to Matt Hedges who took a quick left-footed shot. But his shot was blocked and the rebound fell in between Tesho Akindele and Brad Guzan. Tesho was able to slide in and knock it past Guzan for the game-winner which sent a shockwave throughout the MLS world.
Dallas now has sole possession of first place in the Western Conference. High spirits from Wednesday’s win will need to carry over to the weekend, as they head west to face a tricky Real Salt Lake side.
Dallas officially has sold Mauro Diaz to Shabab Al-Ahli FC of the UAE. Reports show that the transfer fee falls somewhere between $1 – $1.5 million. Diaz was a true playmaker in Dallas for nearly five years and was the key figure to their 2016 success for hardware.
Two other big headlines for Dallas involved the sudden transfer of Anton Nedyalkov back to Bulgarian side Ludogorets. As a result, Dallas quickly found and signed Brazilian left back Marquinhos Pedroso who is currently on loan in Turkey. He arrived in Dallas a few days ago and will look bring a spark back to the left side.