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Subpar defending proves costly in FC Dallas’ first defeat


BRONX, N.Y. — MLS’s lone undefeated team has fallen.

FC Dallas suffered its first loss of the season on Sunday night, dropping a 3-1 result away to New York City FC in an open and entertaining game at Yankee Stadium. The defeat ended FC Dallas’ six-game unbeaten run to start the year, and was due to a combination of sloppy defending and poor finishing.

The subpar play at the back was somewhat surprising. While playing against NYCFC’s potent attack has proven difficult for almost every team this season, FC Dallas’ defense had done a superb job of not giving up too much in its previous games.

Unfortunately for the Western Conference side, it took all of three minutes before the defense gave up a goal to Jesus Medina. From there, FC Dallas struggled mightily to slow down David Villa and the rest of the NYCFC attack en route to surrendering more than one tally in a match for the first time in 2018.

“I think (allowing) the first goal that early, with a ball that was very controlled, is something that hurt us because of the way we were preparing the game,” said FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja. “We bounced back quick, and with a lot of character. The other two goals I don’t want to elaborate on much, but still they are part of the game.”

FC Dallas as a whole seemed a bit miffed after the match at the Villa penalty in the 36th minute that proved to be the winner because VAR was used to give the spot kick, but Pareja’s side was still in the match even when it was 2-1. FC Dallas created a few good looks from the run of play, but an inability to come up with better finishing prevented the team from finding an equalizer.

Santiago Mosquera, who responded to Medina’s opener with his first MLS goal seven minutes later, had one of the best opportunities to help pull FC Dallas level in the 65th minute. Mosquera, however, opted to shoot from a tight angle instead of passing to a teammate in the middle.

His effort was saved, and NYCFC put the game on ice four minutes later with Villa’s second of the day.

“We had several chances on goal tonight, and we did not take advantage,” Mosquera told SBI. “We could have finished those chances and the game would have been even in the second half, but now we just have to pick our heads up and get back to showing the good work we’ve done so we can keep getting results.”

While FC Dallas has done a good job at picking up points, the club will have to make it a point to avoid repeating the types of defensive errors that were made on Sunday in order to prevent losses from piling up.

Conceding early put FC Dallas in a hole it did not need to be in on the road against a top team, and gave NYCFC more belief and momentum. FC Dallas’s attack may have found a way to respond quickly, but the defense never found a solution for winning its individual battles and stymieing NYCFC.

“It’s never easy to concede three goals. We’re definitely going to look at it,” midfielder Victor Ulloa told SBI. “We came out flat in the very beginning, so we gave them that advantage. The PK call is unlucky for us, and I think the third one is a little bit of miscommunication.

“It’s things that we can control, so that’s the positive part about it. We can fix those. It’s mistakes that we made. We’ve got to look forward to the next game.”

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