HOUSTON - The FC Dallas U-18 Academy team kept its hopes of winning a national championship alive on Wednesday night with a dramatic 2-1 win over Baltimore Bays Chelsea courtesy of second half goals by midfielder Danny Garcia and Homegrown forward Jonathan Top. The result sets the stage for an all-or-nothing final group stage match against Texas Division foe Solar Chelsea SC on Friday evening at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week in Houston.
The match started out bleak for FC Dallas, as Baltimore took an early 1-0 lead in just the 11th minute. FC Dallas kicked the ball out of bounds in their own defensive third of the field and appeared unprepared for the quick throw-in. The Bays capitalized as the throw found Baltimore number 10 Romilio Hernandez at the top of the box just before he put his shot in the back of the FC Dallas net.
FC Dallas pushed for the equalizer in the ensuing minutes, earning several free kicks and corner kicks, but failed to convert as they entered halftime in a 1-0 hole. The start of the second half saw more chances go unfinished and FCD's chance of playing for the national championship appeared to be dwindling.
That all changed in the 65th minute. Desperate for momentum, Top played the ball to second half substitute David Robledo, who found Garcia in the middle of the box. FCD's leading scorer showed his knack for finishing as he turned and put away the chance to tie the match for Dallas.
Garcia thought he had the game-winner in the 86th minute after a chaotic sequence in the box saw him put away a rebound, but just as the squad began to celebrate the offside flag was raised to deny FCD the go-ahead goal for the second match in a row.
But FC Dallas would not be denied in stoppage time. In about the fourth minute of added time, after both goalkeepers had just made brilliant one-on-one stops to keep the match tied, Garcia received the ball from team captain Mikey Ambrose on the left flank. Garcia's first touch nearly saw the ball go out of bounds, but after out-battling his defender, Garcia kept the ball in play at the end line before feeding it to Top in the box. The Homegrown striker took a touch before putting the ball past the 'keeper at the far post to cap off a dramatic, comeback win for FC Dallas.
The win was made that much sweeter after learning that Solar had just won their second straight group match over Chivas USA, meaning that if FC Dallas had finished in a draw with Baltimore, Solar would have clinched the group on Wednesday night. But FCD's victory means the U-18s will face their Texas Division opponents on Friday night with a shot at the national championship on the line.
The scenario couldn't be simpler; a loss or draw for Dallas will send Solar on to the all-important match at BBVA Compass Stadium, but if the U-18s beat Solar, FC Dallas will return to the championship match for a second straight year.
BBC - Hernandez 11'
FCD - Garcia 65'
FCD - Top 90'+
FC Dallas lineup: Cortes, Ambrose, Ashby, Guillen, Rochowski (Robledo 52'), Acosta (Edet 83'), Carrizales (Ortiz 72'), Guzman, Garcia, de la Tejera (Gallegos 85'), Top.