■ FC Dallas ends in a scoreless draw with Columbus.
Goalkeepers are barely tested; visitors nearly tally goal late in match
FRISCO — FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew battled to a scoreless draw Saturday night, the first time in 30 matches FCD played a 0-0 contest and the first home contest in a year at Toyota Stadium in which the home side failed to score.
The Crew nearly turned the draw into an FCD defeat with an 83rd-minute chance that Francisco Higuain blazed across the face of goal, but Crew forward Gyasi Zardes wasn’t able to put a touch on it to knock it past FCD goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.
The goalkeepers will go home feeling they didn’t work hard enough for their checks Saturday. FCD put a pair of shots on goal while Gonzalez had to make only one save. One of FCD’s efforts on target came late when Tesho Akindele tried an audacious chip in stoppage time. Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen leaped to nab the effort and keep the point.
It was the culmination of a second half that was stronger for FCD than the opening period. In the 69th minute, midfielder Abel Aguilar came into the game with FCD switching into a 4-3-3. The change didn’t yield a notable uptick in shots, but did result in more energy. FCD coach Oscar Pareja felt it was worth a tweak as his team looked for a win that would’ve kept it atop the Western Conference.
“We wanted to have control in the middle. That was either we gave them the ball and wait for mistakes and counter, or we can have the initiative to have the ball also,” Pareja said. “With Abel, we wanted to clog the middle more and have somebody in that position in front of the center backs who has the personality to ask for the ball and split that zone.
“At times it worked well. I thought we found some chemistry there and without being very vertical or a team [that] was creating too many chances, we had more control of the game. I like that.”
The most successful chances during the first half came from the right side of the FCD attack where Michael Barrios was able to keep Crew right back Milton Valenzuela occupied. Santiago Mosquera sent a cross-field pass to Barrios that he brought down with an impressive first touch in the 17th minute. He got past Artur but sent his shot into the side netting.
Barrios was in several other times, but the final element wasn’t there. The Colombian struggled to find his teammates when he was in a wide position and also missed a shot at the end of the first half. After Maxi Urruti lofted a pass into the area, he had the ball taken away from him in the box by midfielder Ricardo Clark.
Nevertheless, Barrios was named man of the match after causing Columbus’ defensive issues in his 100th MLS start. “I think it’s all work. We had chances, but they weren’t super clear. We worked for them, were looking for them but we had a really good defense in front of us,” Barrios said.
“They’re solid. The goalkeeper is a national team player. Despite that, we had some chances we couldn’t finish. The forwards may have gotten a little discouraged, I include myself in that, and we didn’t have the patience we’ve had in other games.”
Center back Matt Hedges left the match at halftime, replaced by Maynor Figueroa. Pareja said it was a late switch, with midfielder Victor Ulloa saying he didn’t realize Hedges had needed to leave the field until the team huddled before the second half.
“It took us by surprise. The last minutes of the break we received the news that Matt wasn’t feeling very good with a hit that he took in the first,” Pareja said. “I’m waiting for the medical report. Hopefully it’s not serious, but we’re trying to protect the players as much as we can, so we had to do that.”
FC Dallas defender Marquinhos Pedroso (left) clears the ball from Columbus midfielder Pedro Santos during the first half of a scoreless draw in Frisco.