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A pair of teams who really use the full three points to begin to solidify their playoff placings come together at the Cotton Bowl. The Dallas Burn claimed an improbable victory at the weekend to pull into a third-place tie with the Colorado Rapids - but are just two points clear in the safety zone. The New England Revolution also pulled themselves back into the playoff places with a 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew at the weekend - but they are still only tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with the Chicago Fire.
REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Paul Scott; JAR (opposite): Jose Corro; 4th: Jair Marrufo
MLS Career: 53 games; FC/gm: 33.7; Y/gm: 4.3; R: 9; pens: 22
Games involving Burn: P8 W3 L3 T2; FC/gm: 38.6; Y/gm: 4.5; R: 2; pens: 4
Games involving Revolution: P15 W3 L11 T1; FC/gm: 34.2; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 1; pens: 8
INJURY REPORT: DALLAS BURN - QUESTIONABLE: DF Cory Gibbs (bruised ribs); FW Toni Nhleko (hip flexor) ... NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: MD Clint Dempsey (broken jaw); DF Carlos Llamosa (L knee sprain); FW Joe-Max Moore (R knee sprain); GK Kyle Singer (R shoulder sprain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Adin Brown (concussion)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: DAL: Carey Talley (through Aug. 11); Simo Valakari (through Aug. 11); Brad Davis (through Aug. 11)
YELLOW PERIL: NE: Avery John (20 CP); Shalrie Joseph (19 CP); Steve Ralston (9 CP in 2 gms)
The clubs meet for the second time in three meetings this year, the second at the Cotton Bowl. They meet for the final time on Oct. 2 in Foxborough.
A pair of goals 10 minutes apart in the second half propelled the Burn to a 3-1 victory on June 12 at Fair Park.
Jason Kreis hit home after just 12 minutes when he potted a Simo Valakari cross pumped back into the box from a cleared corner, but the Revolution pulled level just after the halftime break, Clint Dempsey's acrobatic diving header from a slide-rule cross by Steve Ralston evening terms on 52 minutes.
Eddie Johnson headed home a corner to again give the Burn the lead (74), then 10 minutes later substitute Toni Nhleko finished off a quick counter with a short-range tap in for the final margin of victory.
The teams both finished the match a man down after Joe Franchino and Simo Valakari were sent off for violent conduct, after they clashed in a heavy tackle in midfield.
Here's Colin Clarke's team (4-4-2): Jeff Cassar - Philip Salyer, Steve Jolley, Matt Behncke, Chris Gbandi - Ronnie O'Brien, Carey Talley (Oscar Pareja 66), Simo Valakari, Brad Davis (Eric Quill 76) - Eddie Johnson (Toni Nhleko 82), Jason Kreis.
Here's Steve Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Avery John, Marshall Leonard - Richie Baker (Luke Vercollone 89), Joe Franchino, Andy Dorman, Steve Ralston - Jose Cancela - Felix Brillant, Clint Dempsey.
New England won two of three meetings between the teams a year ago. The Revolution won 2-1 at Dragon Stadium on April 26 thanks to a late Taylor Twellman strike (Kreis 72 - J-M Moore 12; Twellman 84), but the Burn rebounded to win 2-1 on July 16 at Gillette Stadium (J-M Moore 44 - Cerritos 4, Thomas 13).
The Revolution then won the final meeting in resounding fashion, 4-1 in Southlake on Oct. 4 (Pareja 20 - Twellman 44, 60; Joseph 53; Noonan 75).
The Revolution have won five of the last seven matches between the two clubs. The Burn had won four consecutive matches in 1999 and 2000, before the Revs began their winning run in the final meeting in the 2001 series. The Revs won six consecutive matches (one by shootout) from 1996-97.
The Burn have won just three times in 11 home meetings with the Revolution. The Burn win in the first meeting this year snapped a three-game winning streak by the Revs in games between the two teams in Texas.
Jason Kreis is the Burn's all-time leader against the Revolution with 7 goals, 7 assists. Carey Talley has 3 goals, 1 assist for his career v New England while Steve Jolley has 2 goals, 5 assists - none while with the Burn. Eddie Johnson and Oscar Pareja are the only other current Dallas players with multiple goals v the Revolution, with two each.
Taylor Twellman has 7 goals, 0 assists v Dallas to lead the Revolution, while Joe-Max Moore leads the club in all-time points v the Burn with 6 goals, 4 assists. Steve Ralston has 2 goals, 10 assists for his career against Dallas - only 3 assists while in New England.
Coaches record: Colin Clarke v MET: P2 W1 L1 T0 ... Steve Nicol vs. DAL: P5 W3 L2 D0
ALL-TIME (21 meetings): Burn 8 wins (1 shootout), 30 goals ... Revolution 12 wins (1 shootout), 39 goals ... 1 draw
AT DALLAS (11 meetings): Burn 3 wins, 13 goals ... Revolution 7 wins, 19 goals ... 1 draw
The match seemed destined for a draw after the Burn were left with nine men, Simo Valakari (57) and Brad Davis (72) both sent off for second bookable offenses, and neither side really threatening.
But then just as the full 90 minutes rolled over, Ritchie Kotschau pulled back substitute Bobby Rhine in the box, and referee Ricardo Valenzuela made no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon guessed correctly on Eddie Johnson's penalty, but the youngster still slipped it past his dive for his seventh goal on the season.
"This game was meant for us," Johnson said. "We deserved every bit of it. I thought we still did well. We tried to hold the ball and create, even though we were two guys down."
Burn coach Colin Clarke made one change to the team that lost 2-1 away to the Columbus Crew on the Wednesday before the All-Star break, Steve Jolley returning to the team, coming into the back for Clarence Goodson.
Here's Clarke's team (4-4-2): Jeff Cassar - Carey Talley, Cory Gibbs, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi (Milton Reyes 85) - Ronnie O'Brien, Simo Valakari, Oscar Pareja (Jordan Stone 65), Brad Davis - Jason Kreis (Bobby Rhine 65), Eddie Johnson
"Fair credit to the eight, plus [goalkeeper] Jeff [Cassar], that were out there," Clarke said. "They were absolutely magnificent, the work they put in. We possessed the ball at times, we knocked it around and passed it. It's a great feeling."
After going into the Rapids match with a complete squad for the first time all season, Clarke will now have some real selection issues this weekend. In addition to missing Valakari and Davis through suspension after they were sent off, he will also be without fullback Carey Talley for caution point accumulation.
On Thursday night, the club will announce its new name and color scheme, in anticipation of the team's move to the Frisco Soccer & Entertainment Complex next season.
The Dallas Burn claimed an improbable 1-0 victory at home against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night, winning a late penalty for the triumph despite finishing the match two men down. The victory pulled the Burn into a tie for third place in the Western Conference, both on 26 points, though Dallas has a match in hand. Both clubs are seven points behind the division-leading Los Angeles Galaxy.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The teams combined for their four goals in the first half - one each in stoppage time - before settling for a share of the spoils.
Kyle Martino pounced upon a poor Jay Heaps pass before cracking home a shot from the edge of the box to give the visitors the lead (20), before Steve Ralston calmly converted from the penalty spot nine minutes later after Crew 'keeper Jon Busch was adjudged to have knocked over Taylor Twellman when rushing out to punch away a bouncing ball.
Then after the clock had ticked over 45 minutes, Edson Buddle powered home a header off a free kick swung in from the left after he was completely unmarked in the heart of the box. But barely a minute later the Revs answered on a free kick of their own, swung in by Jose Cancela from the right where Pat Noonan met it with a glancing header at the near post, nestling it neatly inside Busch's right-hand post.
"I don't think we played particularly well the whole game," Revolution boss Steve Nicol said. "We spent more time in their half in the second half. The first half was a big harem scarem; their two goals were a disaster."
Nicol made one change to the team that settled for a 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on the Saturday before the All-Star break. Brian Kamler returned to the lineup on the left side of midfield, Joe Franchino returning to left back as Marshall Leonard was the odd man out.
Here's Nicol's team (4-4-2): Matt Reis - Steve Ralston, Avery John, Jay Heaps, Joe Franchino - Richie Baker (Felix Brillant 66), Shalrie Joseph, Jose Cancela (Andy Dorman 81), Brian Kamler (Rusty Pierce 77) - Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan
"Everyone is on about us getting forward, getting forward. But we didn't want to do that and expose ourselves to counterattacks, which is all they wanted to do. We got another point and now it's on to the next one," Nicol said. "Of course, we want to get three points and the changes we made in the second half were to put ourselves farther forward. We did try and go forward and try and win the game. We are one win away from a playoff position, not 300 miles away."
Rusty Pierce made his first appearance since April 17, when he suffered an injury to his right thigh. "It's been four months since I've played but I want to make a case for myself," he said. "I was surprised after such a lengthy time out, but sometimes when you are out and watching things, the game slows down a little bit and you pick up on things that you don't see when you are playing."
The New England Revolution saw their unbeaten run stretch to five matches - though they posted a third consecutive draw and fourth during the run, settling for a 2-2 draw at home with the Columbus Crew on Saturday afternoon. The result pulled the Revs out of sole ownership of last place in the Eastern Conference, now tied with the Chicago Fire on 19 points at the foot of the division, 13 points behind the East-leading MetroStars.