FC Dallas have made Toyota Stadium a fortress so far in 2021, but had otherwise struggled on the road up through Week 11.
That narrative changed Saturday evening, as they blitzed the LA Galaxy for a 3-1 win to reach a league-high nine games unbeaten. US men’s national team forward Jesus Ferreira led the way with a brace, his nine goals now pacing the Golden Boot presented by Audi race.
Add in USMNT winger Paul Arriola’s third goal of the year and FC Dallas earned their first road win under first-year head coach Nico Estevez.
“We’ve been playing well away, but we haven’t been getting the wins that we wanted,” Estevez said of prior road struggles. “Today was about belief. We’re growing, we’re playing well as a team and we believe that we can win away against any team. I think the guys are seeing the progress and gaining confidence in the way we’re playing and executing in the right direction. All credit to the team today because they executed the game plan.”
Even more impressively, FCD got the job done without several key starters. Three key pieces – goalkeeper Maarten Paes, center back Jose Martinez and winger Alan Velasco – were all in the league’s health and safety protocols. Without a beat, goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, center back Nkosi Tafari and winger Jader Obrian stepped into the XI.
Those changes were but a minor speedbump, as LA struggled to truly threaten the visitors’ defense aside from Douglas Costa’s indirect free-kick tally in the 67th minute. FCD’s counterattacking bonanza across a 12-minute span in the first half proved overwhelming.
“Our team shows that everybody is ready to step up for whatever reason,” Ferreira said. “Like you said, three of us didn't play, but three other guys popped up and played the role. We know anybody can play the system. Everybody is ready, we saw it during training and now I'm seeing during the game.”
The win puts FC Dallas just one point behind LAFC for the early Supporters’ Shield, a significant turnaround considering they missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs a year ago and finished 11th in the Western Conference standings.
“I think that’s the way we can play,” Arriola said. “The question is, can we keep that mentality and not drop, which oftentimes we do. Today, we did a pretty good job, but we can still get better and punish teams on the counter.”
Ferreira shared a similar message, with his nine goals already a career-high.
“It shows the league that we’re ready to play anywhere and against any team,” Ferreira said. “ … We showed them that we can play here and dominate and win, so we're just sending a message that we're ready and we’re not going to back off from anyone.”