All square in the Brimstone Cup.
Carlos de los Cobos opened up the season in a 3-5-2 formation with plenty of strength in the middle of the pitch to combat FC Dallas's attack-minded group. Gonzalo Segares pushed up to the left side of midfield from his more natural left back spot to make the formation click. The home side came out with four in the back, including Brek Shea who has moved into a defensive position for at least the early part of the season.
FC Dallas came out in the mood for goals and pressed the action early on. Just under ten minutes in it seemed like the Hoops had their first goal of the season, but a look at the assistant showed that Milton Rodriguez had been judged offside and the goal would not stand.
Despite a fairly dominating performance from FCD to start the match, it was Chicago who struck first. Diego Chavez got off the mark in the 17th minute after a sloppy clearance from Daniel Hernandez and some suspect goalkeeping from Kevin Hartman from a deflected shot left an easy tap-in for the Uruguayan.
It took the home team just two minutes to answer. Zach Lyod set the table with a nice slashing run down the left touchline. His ball in was met by an astute run from Rodriguez, who took the finish behind his back and past the keeper to put the match at 1-1.
Fouls began to pile up and the match got a bit touchy after the first two goals. Chances slowed down as well with both teams really taking chances from range rather than working anymore good openings.
Dallas had the better of the chances with Andrew Jackson bombing a shot and Chavez sending a header wide, but neither goal was under much more duress until after the half hour mark.
Chicago had a nice look at goal on 34 minutes when a well placed freekick had to be punched away by Hartman. The danger cleared, the fouls came back and the cards began to mount with FC Dallas picking up two in a matter of the next few minutes.
David Ferreira got into the action in the 39th with a slick back-heel that set Jackson free down the right. The cross was teasing but there was nobody on the end of it. Ferreira continued to push the pace and Logan Pause had to come up with some brilliant defending to keep the reigning MVP from getting free in the box.
Chicago pressed back at the end of the half as they changed their look and brought on Patrick Nyarko but neither team found a second before the break and the match hit the halfway point level at one.
Diego Chavez almost netted his second just four minutes into the second half. Dallas made a mess of another corner and Marco Pappa set Chavez up for a blast that pinged off the crossbar, narrowly missing out on another lead.
Nyarko continued to make an impact down the right with his pace getting in behind Lyod on a few occasions, but the final ball was missing.
The game took a nasty turn in the 55th minute for FCD. Chicago forward Gaston Puerari pounced on a questionable back pass, putting Shea under pressure. With the forward bursting forward, Shea was called for a foul and shown a red card. It was a soft ejection at the very least, and Dallas would face 35 minutes a man down. Hernandez shifted back into the back four to compensate, leaving Dallas shorthanded in the middle of the pitch.
In the 60th Puerari once again was pouncing on a Hernandez mistake and pushing forward. This time he was in alone of Hartman, but the veteran keeper came up huge and denied what looked like a sure goal.
The moment of worry forced FCD to make another adjustment, sacrificing Eric Avila for Ugo Ihemelu to get the extra defender on.
Despite being a man down Dallas was still looking for a win and on 68 minutes they nearly found a goal from an Eric Alexander cross that drifted dangerously close to goal and had to be dealt with.
In the 72nd Pappa had a go at goal from 25 yards, but the shot looked much more dangerous coming off his foot than when it sailed up and over. It was the type of effort that signified much of Chicago's night and the man advantage was hard to notice. Dallas actually had plenty of the ball and tried to attack with multiple players feeling free to run at Chicago's back line.
Not surprisingly the match once again became a festival of fouls with both teams clearly looking to stop any runners from finding space as the game wound into the final ten minutes. The set plays, when the match wasn't stopped in the middle of the park, were wasted. With the counterattack failing for both sides there seemed little chance of another goal.
After such a frantic opening the energy in the game was long gone by the 90th minute, but Chicago had one last burst. Pause smashed a shot on goal and forced Hartman to push it over the top. The corner was cleared and Dallas did what they could to break the other way, but, as was often the case on Saturday, Ferreira's final pass was off. Pappa had a similar look as the visitors pushed to grab a win at the death, but Hartman was in the way again, and there was to be no winner on the night.
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