At times, you could feel the tension and uneasiness in the air. What started out as a jubilant City Park, happy and ready to have their boys back at home, quickly became a tense and unsure theater hanging on every pass, every shot, and every minute. After FC Dallas’ goalkeeper, Maarten Paes earned a red card and his marching orders in the 12th minute of play, St. Louis City found themselves searching for a breakthrough against a tough Dallas defense.
The best chance in the first half actually came to Dallas in the 26th minute. A misplaced pass by Tim Parker found Jáder Obrian free at the top of the box and 1-on-1 with St. Louis goalkeeper Roman Bürki. Bürki closed the space between them and stood tall, as he has all season. Three minutes later, St. Louis City midfielder Aziel Jackson found himself on the ground in the Dallas penalty box; however, referee Guido Gonzales Jr. didn’t see enough, and neither did VAR, to warrant a penalty kick, and play resumed.
As Dallas sat deeper in their defensive end, St. Louis was forced to be creative in the final third of play, but they never seriously threatened Dallas’ backup goalkeeper, Jimmy Maurer. St. Louis’ best chance in the first half fizzled out in the 43rd minute when a ball played to Sam Adeniran got lost in his cleats before being crossed wide of the goal. Credit where it’s due: Dallas’ defense stymied St. Louis in the first half, and they frustrated a team needing a valuable three points at home.
With 45 minutes left to claim all three points, City turned to two of its newest players to make the difference.
In the 82nd minute, Rasmus Alm found space on the right wing of the Dallas defense, sent a deep cross to the back post, and found Anthony Markanich to put City ahead 1-0. Fresh off a transfer from Colorado and an assist last week in Orlando, Markanich found himself in the right spot at the right time. The crossed ball deflected off his knee past the diving goalkeeper to send City Park into a frenzy. It was a much-needed breakthrough in a game desperate for action. More importantly, the breakthrough allowed City to breathe for the first time since the 12th-minute red card.
Three minutes later, it was Nökkvi Thorisson’s turn to make his mark for City. After a misplayed ball off a goal kick found its way to Eduard Löwen on the right wing, the City midfielder sent a cross into the box, looking for João Klauss or Thorisson to latch on. As the ball came into the box, Klauss played an excellent dummy, allowing the ball to find Thorisson on the back post. Thorisson left no doubt on the one-time finish and put City up 2-0. It was Thorisson’s first goal with City. A late goal in stoppage time (95th minute) saw Dallas pull one back, but it would ultimately be the last kick of the game for a final of 2-1.
The win at home was the 15th overall of the season and the 10th win at City Park for St. Louis City. The win also takes City seven points clear of LAFC in the Western Conference with 8 games remaining. The next game for St. Louis City is Saturday against Sporting Kansas City at 7:30 pm CT. St. Louis won the first edition of the “interstate” rivalry 4-0 on 5/20.