FC Dallas Defeats Sporting KC in Final Game of 2022

Paul Arriola #7 of FC Dallas celebrates with Alan Velasco #20 after scoring a second goal for his team | Image by Getty Images

FC Dallas is on its way to the Major League Soccer playoffs after defeating Sporting Kansas City 2-1 at home.

The victory ensures that FC Dallas will play the first playoff game at Toyota Stadium in Dallas, where the team has a 10-4-3 record. Dallas finishes the regular season with 53 points to set the franchise record for the largest year-over-year improvement in team history.

“It’s a lot of credit to the players,” said head coach Nico Estevez after the game. “They’ve been working really, really hard since day one. They have committed to achieving the goals we set out at the beginning of the season.”

He added, “They put so much effort into the way we want to play, the way we want to attack, the way we want to defend. This season was really good for the club.”

The score for an early goal by Paul Arriola was removed when referees determined the aggressive player was off-sides. Soon after, Sebastian Lletget scored his first goal as a member of FC Dallas to open the game in the 33rd minute.

Lletget joined Dallas in August after being traded from the New England Revolution.

“Since I arrived in Dallas, I wanted to help make a difference,” Lletget said. “Today, we completed one of our goals that was set at the beginning of the season. Now the fun begins, the playoffs are here, and they will be interesting.”

The goal scored by Lletget came on a pass from Jesus Ferreira across the field and outside the penalty box. Lletget’s shot deflected off another player and bounced just clear of goalkeeper Kenny McIntosh.

After missing the last month, Alan Velasco returned to the pitch and picked up where he left off, fielding the assist that led to Arriola’s goal. Velasco is also in his first season with FC Dallas and has been an integral part of the offense. In 26 games, Velasco scored five goals and had six assists.

“I am happy to be back,” Velasco said. “I finally got some minutes under my belt, and I feel great. Being able to host a playoff game is special. We will be able to play in front of our fans. We will prepare during the week and focus as we head into the first game of the playoffs.”

In the 50th minute, Sporting KC tied the game at 1-1 with a score out of the slop. Maarten Paes successfully blocked a crossing shot, but Dallas defenders could not clear the ball. Graham Zusi collected the loose ball and knocked it past Paes and several Dallas defenders.

Arriola scored his 10th goal of the season in the 65th minute.

Next up for FC Dallas will be a playoff match against Minnesota. The last time the teams met was May 22, with Minnesota taking a 2-1 victory. Dallas players are determined to get a win in the playoffs. The date and time of the match have not been set.

“The message is pretty clear, and that is to win,” said Arriola. “We will look to compete, and we know how the playoffs are because games are tougher.”

Strategy-wise, he said, “We will focus on Minnesota, and then we shall see what is ahead.”

Expressing the sentiment of many, Arriola added, “I am very happy and proud of the team who worked together to get a home playoff match.”

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