Chivas USA, FC Dallas make their point
FC Dallas and Chivas USA were left with a wholly unsatisfying result, neither team able to end a long winless run and get a much-needed three points as they played to a 2-2 draw Saturday night at Pizza Hut Park.
The teams scored eight minutes apart in the first half, Esteban Arias giving Chivas a 36th-minute lead before Carlos Ruiz equalized for his fourth goal at the new FCD stadium. Then Ezra Hendrickson again nosed Chivas in front in the 59th minute before Ramon Nuñez once again pulled the Hoops level.
The Hoops started the game with a new formation, opting for the 4-4-2 rather than the 4-3-3 they had used for the majority of the season. The strike pair of Ruiz and Eddie Johnson looked more comfortable with the extra space up front, while Ronnie O'Brien was slotted into his natural right-sided midfield position with Nuñez on the left.
Both teams were looking to attack from the outset, and the match was end to end throughout the first half. The leader of the Chivas attack, Francisco Palencia, made his presence known early as he had just enough space to get off a lethal shot in the seventh minute of play that just flew over the crossbar.
Then Nuñez, making just his third start of the year, nearly made his mark on the game in the 10th minute as he sent a nice curling freekick that cleared the left corner of the goal.
Chivas were then gifted the lead in the 36th minute after Clarence Goodson cleared the ball right to the feet of Arias. He took a simple touch to the inside, giving him space for a shot that sailed past FCD 'keeper Jeff Cassar to give the visitors the lead. Arias wasn't originally supposed to be in the starting lineup, but gained his place when Francisco Mendoza was laid up at the hotel with a viral illness.
FCD nearly responded right away as Greg Vanney pushed into the attack in the 37th minute to send in a quick restart from a free kick from 30 yards out. It found a wide open Goodson, but his header didn't have much power and was saved by Brad Guzan in the Chivas goal.
The Hoops did find a way to answer back just before the half as Johnson made a neat turn and carried the ball into the box on the right side before making a simple change of pace which cause defender Armando Begines to lose his footing. Johnson made a quick turn on the endline for a cross right to an open Ruiz who easily tapped home in the 44th minute.
In the first two matches at Pizza Hut Park, the second half caused problems for FC Dallas. They looked to shake that habit as Ruiz fed O'Brien in the 50th minute for a strong low shot that nearly snuck inside the right post, but the score remained tied.
But Chivas were able to strike first in the second half in the 59th minute. Arturo Torres sent a flick-on header off a corner that fell to the feet of an open Hendrickson at the back post, and he just pushed it over the line ahead of a late-arriving Jeff Cassar.
Cassar fell hard on his shoulder on the play and had to leave the game, making way for Scott Garlick -- who saved the day for the Hoops in Wednesday night's U.S. Open Cup penalty shootout.
Nuñez started to find his game late in the second half, and Johnson would reward him for his energetic runs in the 66th minute with a cross from the right. It was headed out by Hendrickson but fell right to Nuñez, who took one touch to control it and his second touch was a strong drive to beat the outstretched Guzan.
Guzan made a pair of saves over the final stretch, turning aside a shot from Ruiz and one from Nuñez from the right side, but FC Dallas couldn't find the way to end their streak and get a first win at their new home.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Ramon Nuñez (FC Dallas)
Scott Joiner is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.