SEATTLE – Dominique Badji didn’t take long to make a mark in his new surroundings.
The 25-year-old striker has only been a member of FC Dallas since July 23, when he was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rapids. But in his team debut against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, Badji wasted no time getting on the scoresheet, bagging his team’s only goal in what turned out to be a 2-1 defeat.
FCD trailed 1-0 in the 53rd minute of Sunday’s contest before Badji finished off a slick sequence by chesting home a feed from Michael Barrios to level the contest.
Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro would eventually curl home the game-winning free kick to deny FCD a positive road result, but head coach Oscar Pareja said it was still encouraging to see his new forward score in his debut.
Dominique Badji duels with Seattle's Chad Marshall | USA Today Sports Images
“It was very important for Dominique to debut and have that goal,” Pareja said. “I think it’s a great way to come into the game. We still have many games in front of us. These guys have accumulated a lot of points and that has put them in a good position, but just having Dominique and Pablo [Aranguiz] getting action is very refreshing and is going to help us.”
Dallas have been known as one of the league’s most dynamic attacking sides since emerging as a perennial Western Conference contender under Pareja, and the hope is that Badji’s finishing ability will allow him to thrive on a team that figures to generate him plenty of chances.
The sequence that led to his equalizer was a glimpse at the possibilities. Badji teamed up with Barrios for a finish that was originally set up by a nifty flick from forward Maxi Urruti.
“It felt good,” Badji said. “It was nice to be out there, nice to play a game again. Not the result we wanted, but it felt good to be out there and play with the goals. It was tough. I bring a lot more to the game than I showed today for sure, especially in the first half. But, just getting my feet wet, and I have to keep going.
“The game is not going to slow down for you, so I just have to adapt, which is going to take maybe a couple of games. There were glimpses there where I know I’m going to get a lot of chances to score goals here.”
Badji’s wasn’t the only notable debut for FCD on Sunday.
New playmaker Aranguiz, acquired after the sale of midfielder Mauro Diaz, also made his first appearance for the North Texans, entering the contest in place of Badji in the 62nd minute.
He has big shoes to fill: Diaz was one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers during his time in MLS. As with Badji, Pareja said he was pleased with the initial returns, however.
“I’m very happy to see his talent in there,” Pareja said. “Pablo has brought a lot of creativity in the short time he’s been with us and I think Major League Soccer is going to have a great player there that is invested in his talent and this league and believes in the process of [the league]. So, I’m very content.”