Recap: Dallas clinch playoff spot in 2-1 win over Fire

FC Dallas attacker Jackson

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – FC Dallas clinched their second straight postseason berth on Wednesday night, getting goals from Jackson and Daniel Cruz to beat the Chicago Fire 2-1 in front of 10,362 at Toyota Park.

The result snaps FCD’s four-game losing streak and keeps the Brimstone Cup in Dallas for the 10th straight year.

The loss all but mathematically eliminates the Fire from playoff contention, as 13th-place Chicago now sit six points out of the postseason with just two games remaining. Chicago now must win their final two matches and hope for a miracle to get into the playoffs.

Jackson capped FCD’s dominant first half performance with a 41st-minute goal. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson misjudged the close-range attempt, which weakly rolled directly under the second-year keeper’s left hand and inside the right post.

The goal was Dallas’ first in MLS play since Sept. 10 – a span of four games.

Cruz made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute. The Colombian midfielder chipped a bouncing ball over his shoulder at the top of the six, putting his acrobatic effort just inside the right post for his first career MLS goal. 

Fire midfielder Sebastián Grazzini pulled one back in the 86th, curling a powerful 18-yard right-footer into the top right corner from the left side. The Argentine’s goal was merely a consolation however, as the 10-man Fire – who went down a man after Pável Pardo’s straight red in the 79th – couldn’t muster any further chances against FCD’s compact back line.

Dallas were in control right from the start, coming within inches of scoring in the third minute. Forward Marvin Chávez collected a ball on the right edge of the box, hitting a low cross to strike partner Jackson, who sent a one-touch effort just wide of the left post.

Jackson and Chávez combined again to create an opportunity in the ninth minute. Jackson slipped a through ball down the middle of the Fire defense to Chávez, who fired a 10-yard shot just wide of the top left corner.

Johnson made a fantastic save in the 24th minute to keep it scoreless. He somehow stopped a close-range shot from Jackson, turning away the Brazilian’s right footer with a marvelous one-handed save.

FCD had another sure-goal turned away in the 35th minute, when Chávez saw his close-range effort cleared off the line by Fire right back Dan Gargan.

Pardo got tossed in the 79th minute, earning a straight red card for his very harsh challenge on Dallas midfielder Ricardo Villar.

Chicago’s attack was listless for most of the match, failing to register a legitimate opportunity outside of Grazzini’s goal. Not helping the Fire’s cause was the absence of standout attacker Marco Pappa, who wasn’t in the 18 after playing 45 minutes in Guatemala’s 3-1 win over Belize in Guatemala City on Tuesday night.

Dallas winger Brek Shea, who played the first half of the US’ 1-0 loss to Ecuador in New Jersey on Tuesday night, came on for Fabián Castillo in the 63rd minute.

Both teams return to action on Saturday, with Chicago travelling to RFK Stadium for a match against 12th-place D.C. United and Dallas heading north of the border to take on Vancouver.

Scoring Summary:
DAL -- Jackson 4 (Ugo Ihemelu 2) 41
DAL -- Daniel Cruz 1 (Zach Loyd 4, Ricardo Villar 2) 52
CHI -- Sebastian Grazzini 4 (Orr Barouch 1) 85

FC Dallas -- Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd, Ugo Ihemelu, George John, Jair Benitez, Fabian Castillo (Brek Shea 63), Daniel Cruz (Bobby Warshaw 85), Andrew Jacobson, Ricardo Villar (Maicon Santos 89), Marvin Chavez, Jackson.

Substitutes Not Used: Bruno Guarda, Jeremy Hall, Jack Stewart, Chris Seitz.

Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Dan Gargan (Josip Mikulic 77), Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares (Orr Barouch 77), Logan Pause (Daniel Paladini 56), Pavel Pardo, Sebastian Grazzini, Patrick Nyarko, Diego Chaves, Dominic Oduro.

Substitutes Not Used: Baggio Husidic, Victor Pineda, Michael Videira, Jon Conway.

Misconduct Summary:
CHI -- Gonzalo Segares (caution; Reckless Tackle) 18
DAL -- Zach Loyd (caution; Tactical Foul) 29
CHI -- Dan Gargan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 39
DAL -- Jackson (caution; Reckless Tackle) 43
DAL -- Daniel Cruz (caution; Reckless Foul) 58
CHI -- Pavel Pardo (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 78
CHI -- Cory Gibbs (caution; Reckless Foul) 82
CHI -- Josip Mikulic (caution; Reckless Foul) 90

Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell; Peter Balciunas
4th Official: Chris Penso
Time of Game: 1:56
Weather: Clear and 65 degrees
Attendance: 10,362