Hoops fall to Norway's Stabak

LA MANGA, Spain - FC Dallas rookie midfielder Dax McCarty scored four minutes into the game however the Hoops surrendered two second half goals to Norwegian-side Stabäk for the 2-1 loss in the third pre-season game played in La Manga, Spain. FCD will travel to England on Friday for the second week of the European trip.

"I was very, very pleased with the game," said FCD head coach Colin Clarke following the game. "I thought the first half we showed some very good stuff. We knocked the ball around and controlled the pace and tempo of the game. I thought our passing was good, as was our runs and movement. Defensively we looked solid and strong. We scored the one goal and probably deserved more as we certainly created enough opportunities to score another one or two."

"In the second half we changed a few things to look at different formations and different players but we couldn't get a hold of it," said Clarke. "They scored on one of the weirdest penalty calls I've ever seen and then we were caught on one in the last minute. So a disappointing result but it's preseason and we had a lot of positive tonight that let's us know we're going in the right direction."

Clarke used a combination of the two previous game's lineups for the final match in Spain, mixing in three first-year players with experienced veterans. Eighteen-year old Dax McCarty was paired in the middle with Simo Valakari while rookie Justin Moore started at right back alongside Greg Vanney and Drew Moor, and first-year forward Kenny Cooper was partnered with Carlos Ruiz in the front line.

"We made some changes, putting some young kids to give them a chance with the older and more experienced players," added Clarke. "It was good to see them relishing the opportunity and do very, very well. We changed things in the second half going back to a four-three- three which we played last year to give it a look. We feel that with the flexibility and players we have we'll be able to do that during the year."

From the first whistle FC Dallas looked quick and sharp, spreading balls from side to side and effectively moving forward. The pressure paid off almost immediately, as McCarty found the back of the net after only four minutes. The play began from the left side as defender Chris Gbandi advanced forward and sent a curving cross to the far side of the penalty area. Cooper tried to meet the ball in the air but slipped as he approached. Nevertheless he was able to get a foot on the ball, keeping it alive by knocking it back out to the top of the box. McCarty came running in and calmly hit a curving shot to the far left upper corner to give the Hoops the 1-0 lead.

McCarty and Valakari dominated the center of the field, winning balls back and quickly opening up the field by finding wideouts Arturo Alvarez and Ronnie O'Brien on both sides.

Stabak had their first real chance after 23 minutes, when Andreas Strand flicked a cross to the back post and teammate Jesper Jansson jumped to head the ball towards goal. FCD keeper Dario Sala had an eye on the ball and reacted quickly to be positioned for the easy save.

Dallas again threatened five minutes later, using both Alvarez and O'Brien in the attack. Alvarez received a ball on the left and quickly sent a ball forward to Ruiz, who laid the ball back on one touch to O'Brien who was running in from the right. O'Brien ripped the shot as he was running in but was not able to get the dip he wanted and the ball carried over the crossbar.

Ruiz and Alvarez combined again right before the half. Receiving a ball deep in the area, Ruiz shielded the ball before touching it forward to Alvarez who was running in from the left. Alvarez one-timed a low shot to the far post but keeper Jens Sorensen quickly got down to push the ball out for a corner kick.

FCD made a change to start the second half, inserting Clarence Goodson at center back with Vanney moving to the left side as Gbandi came off. While Dallas had a few advances forward, it was Stabak who kept the pressure on. In the 60 minute, Stabak's Trond Haustad came running in from the left but Sala once again reacted quickly, advancing off his line to cut off the angle and diving to low to his right to keep the score in favor of the Hoops.

In the 69th minute, the referee surprised everyone when he called a penalty as the both teams retreated expecting the call to be a goal kick for the Hoops. The referee said afterwards to both team's head coaches that FC Dallas defender Justin Moore held on to a Stabak player's jersey for a few seconds as the play was ending, which he felt was worthy of a penalty kick. Alan da Costa stepped up and kicked the ball low to the right side barely missing the diving attempt by Sala.

The teams traded even opportunities for the next ten minutes, but O'Brien came close to giving Dallas the lead in the 87. Having moved into the center, O'Brien received a ball from Valakari 35 yards from the goal and fired a shot low to the left post only to see the keeper in full stretch push the ball across the line for a corner.

With the game in the final moments, Stabak struck to take the lead. Strand chested down a pass from midfield about 30 yards from goal and Nystuen came charging in, driving a low shot around a Dallas defender that snuck inside the left post. Sala was shielded from the ball until it was too late to react.

FCD will train at 8:00 a.m. on Friday before departing for England for another week of training. The team is scheduled to stay in Southampton and play a match against Brentford FC on Tuesday, with another match yet to be finalized.

Scoring Summary:

FCD - McCarty 4' (Cooper, Gbandi)

STA - da Costa 69' (penalty kick)

STA - Nystuen 89' (Strand)

FC Dallas: 48-Dario Sala, 4-Chris Gbandi (11-Clarence Goodson 45'), 3-Greg Vanney, 14-Drew Moor, 24-Justin Moore (22-Michael Dello-Russo), 12-Arturo Alvarez, 13-Dax McCarty (5-Mark Wilson 62'), 17-Simo Valakari, 6-Ronnie O'Brien, 33-Kenny Cooper (9-Roberto Mina 70'), 20-Carlos Ruiz (7-Abe Thompson 84')

Subs not used: 00-Jeff Cassar, 23-Blake Wagner, 29-Mario Torres, 27-Aaron Pitchkolan, 28-Miguel Guante, 9-Bobby Rhine, 30-Ray Burse.

Injured: 21-Alex Yi, 10-Ramon Nunez, 8-Richard Mulrooney, 16-David Wagenfuhr

Stabäk: 12-Jens Sorensen, 15-Morten Skjonsberg, 4-Mike Kjolo, 8-Jesper Jansson, 26-Bjornar Holmvik, 6-Tom Stenvoll, 16-Espen Nystuen, 17-Joachim Persson, 25 Alan da Costa, 24-Karim Aoudia, 18-Andreas Strand.

Subs: 12-Steiner Sorlie, 5-Markus Karlsson, 21-Tommy Stenersen, 9-Trond Haugstad


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