FC Dallas out to conquer Fire

the club's big offseason signings all doing their part in the victory. Richard Mulrooney -- a winter acquisition from San Jose -- gave FC Dallas a dream start when he smashed home a half-volley from outside the area after just two minutes, a Ronnie O'Brien cross from the left helped on by a flick header from another new boy, striker Carlos Ruiz.

  • Then just two minutes after the break, star U.S. international striker Eddie Johnson kept up his blinding form with his first league goal, diving in to head home a Carey Talley cross, neatly putting the ball off the inside of the post.
  • Fire defender Leonard Griffin was sent off in the 51st minute for a second bookable offense, but Kelly Gray pulled a goal back for the visitors with 17 minutes left. He headed the rebound of a saved Jesse Marsch shot into an unguarded goal, yet it wasn't enough.
  • Here's Clarke's team (4-3-3): Scott Garlick - Philip Salyer, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, David Wagenfuhr - Richard Mulrooney, Simo Valakari, Carey Talley - Eddie Johnson, Carlos Ruiz (Oscar Pareja 83), Ronnie O'Brien
  • Here's Sarachan's team (4-4-2): Zach Thornton - Kelly Gray, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Leonard Griffin - Justin Mapp, Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch (Chad Barrett 80), Mario Ivan Guerrero - Andy Herron (Chris Rolfe 66), Nate Jaqua

    HISTORY

  • A year ago, the Burn won both meetings to again lay claim to the Brimstone Cup. They claimed an impressive 2-0 victory in Chicago on April 17 (Johnson 26, Rhine 70), then handed the Fire a heavy 4-1 defeat on Aug. 28 as Johnson struck twice (33, 65), the others coming from O'Brien (28) and Khleko (58).
  • It was the third consecutive year the Burn won the Brimstone Cup, awarded by supporters clubs of the two teams. The Fire won the first series in 2001, the Burn then claiming it in 2002, retaining it in 2003 when the teams leveled the series.
  • Dallas has won the last four meetings between the teams, and six of the last seven over three seasons. The only Chicago victory since 2001 came on June 18, 2003, at Cardinal Stadium.
  • Coaches record: Colin Clarke vs. CHI: P4 W4 L0 D0 ... Dave Sarachan v DAL: P5 W1 L4 T0

    CHICAGO FIRE

    The Chicago Fire won for the third time in four matches, overcoming a halftime deficit in resounding fashion in a 5-2 thrashing of Chivas USA at Soldier Field last Saturday afternoon. The Fire kept sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference with 19 points from 12 matches, two points ahead of third-place Kansas City Wizards and now just three points adrift of East leader New England Revolution.

  • Nate Jaqua hit for a hat trick as the Fire exploded in a four-goal second half blitz. He gave the Fire a dream start, hitting home after just two minutes when he turned home a Thiago pass from close range after he had rounded the defense on the right.
  • But Chivas answered back just three minutes later, Antonio Martinez hitting a long-range shot that took a looping deflection giving Fire 'keeper Zach Thornton no chance. Then just before the break, Chivas USA took the lead, when Ezra Hendrickson headed home a corner (42).
  • But the Fire struck for three goals in an eight-minute span just after the interval to take control. Jesse Marsch pulled Chicago level on 53 minutes when he headed home from close range after Chivas failed to completely clear the danger from a corner. Then four minutes later Ivan Guerrero took a long angled pass from Thiago, danced inside a defender and banged home a left-footed drive.
  • Then Jaqua finished off his hat trick. He hit for his second on the hour with a magnificent diving header from a Gonzalo Segares cross from the left, then completed it with the easiest of his goal, pushing a rebound into an empty net after Chivas 'keeper Martin Zuniga had turned aside Chris Rolfe's shot on the run (74).
  • Fire boss Dave Sarachan made one change to the team that defeated the MetroStars 2-1 at Giants Stadium the previous Tuesday. Justin Mapp returned to the starting lineup for the first time in three matches with Chris Armas unavailable through injury.
  • Here's Sarachan's team (4-3-1-2): Zach Thornton - Logan Pause, Samuel Caballero, Tony Sanneh, Gonzalo Segares - Justin Mapp (Scott Buete 75), Jesse Marsch (Jim Curtin 86), Ivan Guerrero (Leonard Griffin 79) - Thiago - Nate Jaqua, Chris Rolfe.
  • "I think after we talked about a few things at halftime and made a few adjustments, the team came together [and] was determined that we weren't going to get out of Soldier Field without a victory. I thought it was a great team response and nobody hung their heads. We just came out in the second half and imposed our will on Chivas."

    TEAM NEWS

  • The five-goal outburst was the biggest by the Fire since the club scored five against the Kansas City Wizards on Aug. 14, 2002. "I'm glad that we're getting some scoring," said Marsch. "We've been struggling a little bit on the offensive end. But I think we're starting to hopefully find a little more of a groove and concentrate a little more, and win more games."
  • It was the first hat trick for Jaqua as a professional, and the fourth in Fire club history. He has four goals in 12 games this season - matching the total he had last year. "With Nate, what you see is what you get in terms of his ability to battle and work and fight. I was thrilled that he got rewarded with goals today because he's come so close all year long and today he was on the end of balls. He deserves the game ball today," Sarachan said.
  • Jaqua was named the MLS Player of the Week for his performance in balloting by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association. "Things went right for us in the second half," Jaqua said. "I had a lot of good crosses sent my way, got my runs timed well, and I was able to get on the end of them."
  • Still, Sarachan felt his team needed to be better in the back. "Obviously scoring five goals is great, but we've got to be a little better on the defending end as a team, not just as four defenders and a goalkeeper, but collectively. Overall, it's a good win for us. What we have talked about was getting the little things right. For them to score off a corner is unacceptable for us. If we're going to be a team that's going to contend for a championship then we can't allow three headers in the box, which we've been the victims of. We've got to clean up those little things."
  • Lubos Reiter did not play for Slovakia in their 2-0 World Cup qualifying loss to Portugal at the weekend, but on Wednesday, he scored within a minute of coming on as a substitute in a 4-0 away victory against Luxembourg. He came on in the 59th minute, then rounded out the scoring with ninth international goal. Slovakia are now second in Group 4 in UEFA qualifying, three points behind Portugal and three ahead of Russia, who have a match in hand.

    FC DALLAS

    FC Dallas extended their winning streak to four matches last Saturday, recording a second successive 2-0 victory on the road, this time against Real Salt Lake. With the full three points, FC Dallas now have the best record in Major League Soccer with 24 points from 11 matches, four ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Galaxy in the Western Conference and two better than East leader New England Revolution.

  • FC Dallas scored opportunistic goals on either side of halftime to ease to a comprehensive victory. Both goals came from rebound opportunities. In the first half, Abe Thompson collected a pass in the penalty area and a hit a low shot that Real 'keeper D.J. Countess was able to turn aside with a dive to his left, but Ronnie O'Brien was quickest to the rebound and knocked it into the unguarded goal (22).
  • Then just before the hour the visitors doubled their lead when O'Brien's angled shot was kicked straight up the heart of the penalty area. Thompson steamed in and drove the rebound right back through the Real defenders and into the back of the net.
  • FC Dallas boss Colin Clarke made one change to the team that defeated D.C. United 2-0 at RFK Stadium the previous weekend. Carlos Ruiz was out with an ankle injury, meaning Abe Thompson made his first MLS start.
  • Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Scott Garlick - Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, Chris Gbandi - Simo Valakari - Arturo Alvarez, Aaron Pitchkolan, Ronnie O'Brien (Steve Jolley 89), Roberto Mina (Ty Maurin 83) - Abe Thompson (Drew Moor 72).

    TEAM NEWS

  • Striker Eddie Johnson did not figure in the USA's 3-0 victory in World Cup qualifying against Costa Rica last weekend, sent home before the match with turf toe. "(Johnson's) not ready to play. "You've got to do what's in his best interests. In a matter of weeks, he'll be back playing again," said Arena.
  • Doctors believe the injury is stress related, and he could be out for a few more weeks. Johnson will be not be available for selection this weekend.
  • Center back Greg Vanney was also released by Arena, after he started the weekend before against England. Vanney played the entire match against Real.
  • Right back Bobby Rhine suffered a fractured bone in his wrist against Real, but will be available to play at the weekend, though wearing a cast.
  • Abe Thompson had made his MLS debut the weekend before at D.C. United - near his hometown of Fairfax Station, Va., then capped off his first start with the rebound goal to kill off the match. "I was looking to put one in and open my account," said Thompson. "It feels great to have it start on my first start -- ever. Luckily Ronnie's shot fell to me in the second half, and it couldn't have fallen to me any better, and it was just a matter of slotting it."
  • Midfielder Ronnie O'Brien also found the back of the net - after barely making off his sickbed to play in the match. "He's been playing great," Clarke said. "The funny thing is he got a bit of a stomach bug this week and he still was able to get it done. ... He's been our best player for a month or more."
  • Carlos Ruiz returned to action for Guatemala on Wednesday, playing the full match in the 3-2 loss to Costa Rica. It was a lost week for Guatemala, losing to Mexico 2-0 three days earlier, and the chapines now sit tied for fourth place with four points from five matches, three behind Costa Rica.


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