FRISCO, Texas – Typically the script for international friendlies between MLS and Mexican sides sees the starters battle it out for around an hour before reserves come in to prove their worth, but Liga MX side Club León had a trick up their sleeve in Sunday night’s friendly.
Argentine manager Gustavo Matosas decided to give his reserves the first 45 minutes before unleashing a barrage out of the halftime locker room bringing on the starters who have led their side to third place in the Mexican first division.
“I’ll say this, it was really a different team for them in the first half and the second half,” head coach Schellas Hyndman told reporters after the game. “You could really see the quality on that team in the second half, how well they were moving the ball around and how quick they were.”
FC Dallas was not fazed by the cheeky move, though there were some bumps in the road.
A mix of starters and reserves went toe-to-toe with the Mexicans through the second half with FCD taking a 2-1 lead early in the final frame through a spectacular scissor kick by Jackson. They’d relinquish it, however, to a 10-minute double salvo midway through the second half led by León’s fantastic Uruguayan forward Sebastián Maz.
“It’s how they work in their formations,” goalkeeper Chris Seitz said when asked about what gave them trouble from a defending standpoint. “They don’t necessarily occupy defenders, they occupy space, so they make defenders make decisions on whether to step or whether to hold. It really does create problems for our center backs as well as our outside backs to make decisions on where they should step to.”
The three goals were the most an FC Dallas defense has allowed in a game since late May, but after taking some punches from the León starters, the FC Dallas reserves Hyndman brought into the match had one late haymaker of their own.
Bobby Warshaw, playing his first minutes for the club since early May, put a header from newly-signed Matías Jara across the goal line to get his name on the scoresheet and pull Dallas level in the 83rd minute.
“It feels good. I can’t sugar coat it at all,” Warshaw said about his goal. “It feels good.”
The goal was as much as FC Dallas deserved and despite the penalty kick loss, the experience should give Dallas some confidence heading into their enormous matchup with Vancouver on Saturday night in Frisco.
“I think we can take some stuff from [this game] for sure,” Chris Seitz said after the match. “We’ve got the biggest game of the year on Saturday, so we’re moving our focus on and hopefully learning from some stuff here. We can take a lot off it.”