FRISCO, Texas — In Landon Donovan’s last regular season appearance at Toyota Stadium, FC Dallas scored two second half goals in front of an announced attendance of 19,039 to put the team into the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
It was a battle that both teams hoped to win for different reasons. The Galaxy wanted to take advantage of Seattle’s loss to Vancouver on Friday to take the lead for the Supporters’ Shield, whereas the Texas club was trying to finally get back into the playoffs after a two-year hiatus.
It was a lot of FC Dallas for long stretches of the first half until the Galaxy took advantage of one of their few chances forward. In the 22nd minute, Stefan Ishizaki ended up with the ball all by himself on the right side of Dallas’ penalty area and put a weighted chip softly into the far corner, freezing Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz.
At the break, the game had a unique substitution as referee Juan Guzman, originally the 4th Official for the match, substituted on for the original match official, Alan Kelly, who apparently picked up an injury in the first half.
Dallas worked the ball to the wings early in the second half and was rewarded with some chances early. Then, in the 52nd minute, the efforts to open up the Galaxy back line paid off as Andres Escobar put David Texeira through behind the LA defense and the forward finished the chance well with a one-time shot past Jaime Penedo.
The injection of Dan Gargan in the 57th minute seemed to stabilize the Galaxy back line for a time, but he went down in the 86th minute with an injury and had to leave the field to receive treatment. On the subsequent throw in for FC Dallas, with the Galaxy missing Gargan momentarily, Escobar collected a free ball and shot from the right side of the Galaxy penalty area, forcing a save from Penedo. But the softly punched clearance went straight to Dallas forward Fabian Castillo, who headed the ball into an open net.
The result was not what Donovan had wanted for his final regular season appearance in Dallas. The Galaxy forward had announced his retirement from both club and international soccer earlier this year. The prolific scorer had also played for the U.S. national team on Friday in his farewell international match, a 1-1 tie with Ecuador. As for the Galaxy, they remain tied with Seattle for the Supporters’ Shield with two games remaining.
For Dallas it was a gutsy response after a 2-0 loss in Vancouver and the Whitecaps’ subsequent victory in Seattle had put FCD only two points ahead of the Canadian club and three points ahead of the Portland Timbers. With the win, Dallas is back in the playoffs and has a five-point lead on Vancouver for the fourth seed in the playoffs.