COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It was a battle for first place between FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids, pitting the league’s best offense against the best defense. By night’s end, nothing separated the two sides as a late Victor Ulloa equalizer helped FCD salvage a point in a 1-1 draw with Colorado Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“I would say the standings don’t lie,” FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said. “The performance today shows that the two teams are doing great, I would agree with it.”
Dallas entered the match without the services of star winger Fabian Castillo, who is a rumored target of Turkish club Trabzonspor. The Colombian did not travel with the team due to “negotiations surrounding his contract,” Pareja said after the match. They were also without Maxi Urruti, who left injured during FCD’s midweek US Open Cup quarterfinal win over Houston.
Without them, the high-powered offense of Dallas was held largely in check in the first half. FCD had nine shots (three on target) to Colorado’s six, but the Rapids’ lone effort on frame in the first half broke the deadlock. Midfielder Marlon Hairston’s effort gave Colorado a 1-0 lead just before the break.
“I thought the first 15 minutes, we weren’t at our best,” Pareja explained. “The boys have been playing many games in a short amount of time, but they finished strong.”
Despite a disadvantage in possession in the second half, Dallas continued to chip away with chances. The visitors finally found the breakthrough they needed with the fresh legs provided by Ulloa, who subbed in for Carlos Gruezo in the 80th minute. Two minutes later, Ulloa buried a shot in the upper 90 past Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard to level the match at 1-1.
“Coming from the bench, I was just trying to help the team and give them energy,” Ulloa said. “The ball popped out and all I was thinking was ‘I’m going to shoot it.’”
“[The substitutes] came with a lot of energy, but they also gave us ideas,” Pareja said. “Victor came with fresh legs and gave us a push. He’s a kid who represents this program. We played with four Homegrowns and Victor sealed a great night for them.”
The goal sparked an offensive shift in momentum for Dallas, who nearly took the lead a minute later when Michael Barrios forced a Howard save.
For Pareja, the late push was a sign that Dallas could’ve left with even more.
“I thought we deserved much more than a point,” he said. “I thought we were the best team on the field tonight from the first minute to 90-plus. I have to give credit to our players who have played eight games in 29 days and have come away with six wins. It was 1-1, and I couldn’t be prouder of that.”