A late second half strike from midfielder Victor Ulloa lifted FC Dallas to a 1-1 road draw with the Colorado Rapids and maintained their three point advantage atop the MLS standings on Saturday night in Commerce City, Colorado.
Ulloa’s thunderbolt of a goal canceled out Marlon Hairston’s opener for Colorado, who extended their unbeaten run in MLS play to 15 matches with the draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Kickoff was delayed nearly an hour in Colorado due to storms that passed through the area just before the designated 8 p.m. CST start time. The storms and lightning were well clear of the area by 9 p.m. CST though, and the match proceeded without further delay.
Amid increased rumors of a transfer to Turkey for forward Fabian Castillo, the Colombian was held out of the FC Dallas match day lineup, with Ives Galarcep reporting that Castillo left the club on Friday and never made the trip to Colorado.
Forward Maxi Urruti was also rested after mid-week action in the U.S. Open Cup match at Houston, allowing Tesho Akindele and Ryan Hollingshead to start up top alongside Michael Barrios.
Both Walker Zimmerman and Matt Hedges started at center back for Dallas, while Chris Seitz returned to his usual starting spot in goal.
It was the Dallas midfield though that began to assert itself in the game’s early stages, with Barrios played through towards Howard’s goal. The American was able to deny the Colombian though, as Howard tipped the rising strike over the bar. in the 10th minute.
Striker Kevin Doyle nearly got Colorado on the board in the 21st minute, but defender Maynor Figueroa was alert and cleared the effort off the line for FC Dallas. Moments later, Colorado’s Sam Cronin was booked for a strong challenge on Mauro Diaz.
Akindele then had a crack on net of his own in the 26th minute, seeing his deflected effort drift wide of Howard’s goal.
Hairston nearly put Colorado in front on 33 minutes, after having a clear break on the goal of Seitz. But it was Zimmerman to the rescue for Dallas, as he timed a last ditch challenge perfectly to put Hairston off and send the shot wide,
Hairston got his goal in the 43rd minute though, capitalizing on a poor mistake by Atiba Harris, The Dallas defender got into all sorts of trouble trying to deal with a Colorado long ball, attempting to clear the ball back into the middle of the field.
Hairston was able to close down Harris and take possession, rounding Seitz before finishing into an empty net to put the hosts ahead before halftime.
Kellyn Acosta, Zimmerman and Harris all had chances to grab an equalizer in the early stages of the second half, but the American Howard proved himself capable of stopping each effort.
However, on 82 minutes he was beaten by a magnificent effort from Ulloa. The substitute unleashed a swerving rocket past Howard from 25 yards, in what was surely the best goal of Ulloa’s young MLS career.
A late shot from Barrios was beaten away by Howard as well in the dying moments, as Colorado held on for the 1-1 draw.
At 12-6-5 (W-L-D), FC Dallas maintain their three point lead atop the Western Conference and the MLS standings with 41 points from 23 matches.
Colorado remain second in both the West and in the Supporters’ Shield race with 38 points and a record of 10-2-8 (W-L-D).