FC Dallas, Stoke City deliver entertaining friendly

BY foxsports • July 28, 2013

FRISCO, Texas -- It was almost a shame that the stands weren't full at FC Dallas Stadium on Saturday night but the approximately 11,000 souls who did turn out to see Stoke City FC of the English Premier League beat FC Dallas 1-0 in an international friendly were definitely treated to a pretty entertaining game.

Stoke, who was minus Bryan native Brek Shea, who played midfield for FCD between 2008 and 2012 before being sold to the Potters in January as Shea, 23, is currently with the U.S. national team in advance of Sunday's CONCACAF Gold Cup Final against Panama in Chicago, fielded a lineup featuring former Houston Dynamo defender Geoff Cameron, Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios, a former regular for that country's national team and standout English striker Peter Crouch, who didn't start but came on for the visitors to begin the second half.

The Potters got the lone goal of the game in the 25th minute when striker Jonathan Walters scored with a well-placed right-footed shot from about 18 yards out following some great combination play by teammates Kenwyne Jones and Erik Pieters.

"On occasion, we create a number of chances with good calm possession, good patient possession," Stoke City FC manager Mark Hughes said. "That's what we're trying to bring to the club now. I was pleased with a lot of our movement patterns during the game and the goal was a good example of that."

FCD fielded a lineup featuring nine of its 11 normal starters and despite outshooting the Potters by a 21-9 margin with each side putting four shots on frame through 90 minutes, Dallas failed to score for a fifth straight game across all competitions.

"I thought that the game was a pretty even contest going back and forth," FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said. "Created some really good chances but not enough on frame and I thought their goalie came up with some big saves for them as Chris [Seitz] came up with a huge PK save for us. I think it was two teams who were playing to their capabilities. For us, it was a disappointment not to score and it's something we continue to talk about."

Even though FCD lost in its first-ever match against a side from the Premiership, there were some positives to come from the loss. One was the solid 90-minute performance from 18-year-old Plano native Kellyn Acosta, who made his first-team debut on Saturday.

Acosta played the first half at right back and moved to right midfield when Zach Loyd, FCD's normal starter at right back, came on to begin the second half. Along with center back Stephen Keel, Acosta was one of just two Dallas players to play the entire 90 minutes on Saturday.

Dallas also saw recently-signed central attacking midfielder Mauro Diaz, a 22-year-old who came from the famed River Plate of Argentina, make his debut just two days after arriving in Dallas. Diaz was signed on July 17, went through his first training session with the club on Thursday and debuted with FCD in the 31st minute, coming on for Michel.

Diaz played 28 minutes, spending much of his time on the right flank but also drifted inside, before leaving the game in the 59th minute for Fort Worth native Jonathan Top.

This game was also not without its drama in the second half. In the 81st minute, Stoke could have put the game out of reach after Keel was called for a foul inside the FCD area on the Potters' Cameron Jerome, resulting in a penalty kick.

However, backup Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz denied Jerome's attempt in the 82nd minute at the far post with a diving save to keep it a one-goal affair and leave the door open for FCD to possibly draw the match level or maybe even take the lead late.

FCD also had a chance for the equalizer in stoppage time as W.T. White High School and SMU product Ramon Nunez nearly knocked in a free kick from just outside the top of the box. Nunez's bending free kick was denied by Stoke backup goalkeeper Thomas Sorenson at the far post and just seconds later, the whistle sounded to signify the end of the game.

"That was probably the only place I could put the ball," Nunez said. "If I try to go to the other post, Peter Crouch is blocking pretty much the whole goal. I went for it, keeper made a great save and got lucky."

After falling 2-0 at Houston on Tuesday in the opening game of its three-match American tour, Stoke City will now head to the City of Brotherly Love to prepare for a Tuesday match with the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park.

Playing in a game that was 88 degrees at first kick was a big adjustment for most of the Stoke players, but not for Cameron, who got accustomed to playing in hot weather during his time with the Dynamo.

"It's always good to come back to Texas," Cameron said. "I was surprised how hot it was, just kidding. I think playing down here in Texas is a good thing because you get much more out of your fitness.  Playing in a game like this, being in thick air, it's hot, it's humid. You don't get that in England, so hopefully when we go back to England our threshold of fitness is much better than what it was when we left and it was a good test for us."

The Potters open the EPL season on Aug. 17 against Liverpool FC. FCD, who is nursing an eight-game winless streak in league play and hasn't scored in four straight league games to equal a franchise record, returns to the pitch next Saturday at Seattle.