FRISCO, Texas—An almost two-hour break during a match is not exactly a recipe for success for any team, let alone one of the most aggressive attacking squads in the league.
While FC Dallas scored first against rivals Houston Dynamo after what ended up as a 1-hour, 53-minute weather delay on Thursday night, the Dallas attack fell flat soon thereafter, resulting in a 1-1 draw between the top and bottom teams in the Western Conference.
“A long night, for sure; a really long one,” said head coach Oscar Pareja. “I felt the first half, we worked hard to not just score the goal, but try to dominate and control the game. Part of the half, we did it. In the second half, I thought Houston came out with more aggressiveness, and we could not control that well.”
Utility man Ryan Hollingshead's 23rd-minute goal was the only successful end product of Dallas’ limited aggression on the night, as Hollingshead beat DaMarcus Beasley with a back-post run and one-timed a pass from Fabian Castillo to put FCD in front.
But he agreed that FC Dallas lacked assertiveness in the second half, pointing to the delay as a big factor.
“It’s impossible,” said Hollingshead, of maintaining intensity through such a lengthy delay. “The field’s different, the field’s wet and soppy – it kind of feels like you’re running in sand. Then on top of that, your body has cooled down for two hours, and when you go out and do it all again, it’s a really hard thing to do.
“But that’s kind of the game, and at least it’s hard on both teams. They had to do it just as much as we did, so there’s no excuses for it.”
Pareja added the delay made it difficult to gauge how the game was going to play out and to construct a game plan in the conditions.
“It’s very difficult. I can’t predict a game like that after that delay,” Pareja said. “For me, the health and taking care of the players is the priority. I was very concerned about it. It was very wet, the field was very soft, and then you take the pitch, a big part of the game. It’s a tough decision for sure for the referees, and I respect it. But I didn’t want them to play.”
Hollingshead, playing on the wing opposite Castillo in place of the injured Michael Barrios, was in the same boat as Pareja and players on the Houston side, saying he was shocked they took the field for the originally scheduled kickoff, given that the field did not even allow the ball to travel on the ground without coming to a screeching halt.
“I couldn’t believe it; I can’t believe they let it go four minutes,” Hollingshead said. “You could tell from the start, literally off their kickoff, they tried to pass it back, and it just stopped halfway in the middle of the center circle. So going for four minutes was weird, but they were trying to get the game going just like we were. It was good that they were at least trying.”
In the end, both teams played with the same conditions, and FC Dallas were still aiming to protect their home turf and grab three points to head into the two-week Copa America break with an outright lead in the Supporters' Shield race. Instead, they left with one point and sit tied with Colorado.
“I have learned in this league, and told this to our players, that when you cannot win, you have to walk out with a point and level it up,” Pareja said. “We’ll look for those two points that we lost today at home, we’ll have to go and get them somewhere else.”