Burn close out season on down note
and their final match as the Dallas Burn -- on Saturday night as they drew 2-2 with the San Jose Earthquakes at the Cotton Bowl. It was a tough tie to swallow, because if the Burn had won they would have been in the MLS playoffs.
"After they scored the two goals, it put us in a difficult spot," said Burn forward Jason Kreis. "We realized that we had to now score two goals, not one to go to the playoffs. If we're honest about it though, that was how our entire season has gone for us.
"All season long we played some incredible soccer, but it has never been for 90 minutes."
The Burn, who officially changed their name to FC Dallas after the match tonight, also played their final match ever at the Cotton Bowl. After playing in the Cotton Bowl for seven of their eight seasons in the MLS, the Burn bid farewell to Fair Park in downtown Dallas on a down note -- but with heads held high. Next season, the club moves to Frisco.
"I felt we outplayed them for 88 minutes and that's tough for us to take," said defender Carey Talley. "We had two little breakdowns and what do you know, we tie 2-2. I think we definitely did leave it all out on the field."
Eddie Johnson, returning to the Burn after scoring four goals in two games with the U.S. national team, scored the first Dallas goal in the 12th minute. Things looked like they were heading in the right direction, but San Jose tallied two quick goals in the 34th and 36th minutes.
"I think one of the big things that happened tonight was (Ronnie) Ekelund going off and (Landon) Donovan dropping back into midfield (for the Earthquakes)," Burn head coach Colin Clarke said after the match. "His mobility caused us some problems. That's where the two goals happened."
Johnson talked all week about how a letdown in tonight's match would translate to a letdown for the national team. The 20-year-old from Daytona Beach, Florida then backed it up with his 12th goal of the season, but despite falling short of the ultimate goal, he still knows that this was a building block for him as a player.
"I wanted us to win tonight, that was all that mattered to everyone in this room," said Johnson. "We'll look to build on the positives of this season and move forward to next year."
Oscar Pareja set up Johnson's goal and then scored the 62nd-minute equalizer that brought Dallas to within a goal. Named after the match as one of the "Best XI" Dallas Burn players all-time, Pareja played a gritty game in central midfield, receiving a yellow card in the 23rd minute. Kreis, a Burn original who also named one of the "Best XI" by voters on dallasburn.com, recorded his first two assists of the season and played in his final match in a long history at the Cotton Bowl.
"It was obviously going to be an emotion-packed night because of how important the game was," said Kreis. "It was nearly overwhelming to be honest. It was difficult going into the game, but even more difficult coming out of it. We came real close of getting what I thought we deserved."
Despite missing the playoffs in the last regular season match of the year, the Burn recorded four more victories in 2004 than last year, and increased from 23 to 36 points, the biggest improvement in the MLS this season. Clarke knows steps have been taken, but there is still a ways to go.
"It's not something that's going to happen overnight," said Clarke. "We've come along way this season and still got a way to go. But I believe we'll get there."