After a heartbreaking exit from the international tournament at the hands of Pachuca in Mexico on Tuesday, FCD were able to take advantage of some home cooking against expansion side Minnesota United FC, winning 2-0 and dominating most of the night.
“I saw a team today with that character we always talk about – they bounced back,” said head coach Oscar Pareja. “They got a great result and it was a great performance. I saw a team with a lot of great ideas who know what they needed to do.”
The first half was littered with scoring opportunities for the hosts, but they failed to execute in the final third for most of it. Pareja even alluded to Tuesday’s loss to Pachuca, saying the first half Saturday night was reminiscent of their performance in Mexico, where they created chances left and right but were unable to open the scoring. That problem, he said, was exactly why they didn’t advance in the CCL.
“Seeing a person there with that much attack[ing] talent and trust was key for us to achieve those three points,” Pareja said of Morales. “Obviously he doesn’t have the rhythm to do it with the frequency he wants and we will expect, but also all that magic in some sequences, I’m glad to see him [do it].
“He put himself in front of the goal a couple of times in the first half, and also he scored. So I can’t ask for more.”
It didn’t take long for FCD to double their lead, with Michael Barrios finding the back of the net after Kellyn Acosta intercepted a Minnesota pass in the 49th minute. The Loons were able to dial it up a notch in the second half, however.
Enter Jesse Gonzalez, making his second start of the season and only his third start since last July, after storming onto the scene in 2015 and making a name for himself in the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs in FCD’s shootout victory over Seattle.
The Homegrown 21-year-old rekindled those old memories, making five saves against Minnesota, leaping left and right to swat away MNUFC's efforts to cut FCD’s lead.
“I was already mentally prepared and physically prepared throughout all these games we’ve had,” Gonzalez said. “I knew my time was going to come, so I just had to make the best out of it.”
Pareja was candid about Gonzalez’s performance after the match, saying it speaks volumes how he stepped up the way he did despite having very few starts in the last year.
Pareja explained his change of ‘keepers by saying Dallas needed something “fresh” after the painful CCL exit. Saturday’s shutout – Gonzalez’s second of the season – could signal renewed competition in net between Gonzalez and incumbent starter Chris Seitz.
“I like to see players that prove to me they deserve to play and send the message that they need to be on the field,” Pareja said of Gonzalez. “That happened with him.”