FRISCO, Texas -- For 45 minutes on Saturday night FC Dallas looked as if they were poised to leapfrog the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference standings and inch closer to the top of the Supporters' Shield race.
But a five-minute stretch between the 51st and 56th minutes proved costly for the home team. Now instead of hovering near the top of the standings, FC Dallas sit in fifth place in the West after a 2-1 loss to the Galaxy at Toyota Stadium.
Dallas gave up two goals in that stretch after dominating most of the first half defensively by allowing only two shots – neither of them on goal. But rather than focusing on those costly minutes, FC Dallas players and coaches were spewing optimism.
“I think we were by far the better team today,” defender Ryan Hollingshead said. “I don’t think anybody watching that game would say LA outplayed us. They got lucky to get out with three points.”
Hollingshead cited the amount of possession and chances that Dallas created throughout much of the match when describing why he thought the Dallas was the better team.
He’s correct in that regard – FCD held the ball nearly 60 percent of the match and outshot the Galaxy 13-10.
But the two goals that went the Galaxy’s way were still a result of defensive lapses, with the first goal coming as a product of a missed assignment in the box that left Robbie Keane open for an uncontested header.
The second goal came off of a counterattack that followed what Dallas players believed to be a handball in the opposite box. Several players on the field stopped playing with their arms raised thinking a call would come.
But the referee did not point to the spot, and the Galaxy alertly initiated the quick counter that put them on top for good.
“With those type of plays where there’s a guy clearly sitting on the ball for five seconds or whatever, something has to be called there,” Hollingshead said. “We’re looking for a call thinking something is coming, and then they counterattack. Part of that is our fault. We need to be better and be alert and not stop playing until the play is over and the whistle is blown.”
“Matt and I did really well to deal with it, and they just got a lucky bounce,” Kennedy told MLSSoccer.com, right after agreeing with Hollingshead’s assessment on the no-call. “They got a lucky bounce on that play. That’s how I see it. You give them a lucky bounce, and they can punish you.”
Both Kennedy and Hollingshead gave the Galaxy credit for taking advantage of the minimal amount of Dallas lapses and absolved some of the blame for Saturday's loss, which occurred in front of the fourth largest crowd at Toyota Stadium. Head coach Oscar Pareja also gave the visitors credit for flipping a switch at halftime.
The message was clear however, that FC Dallas believed they played well enough to win – something they hope to build on since the schedule does not get any easier with a trip to Vancouver to face the Whitecaps looming next week.
“It’s definitely a hard loss to take, but it should motivate us because I think we deserve more,” Kennedy said. “I think the Galaxy feel like they stole one tonight.”
Scott Sidway covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com.