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PIZZA HUT PARK
7:30 pm CT (FSN-BA)
Still the top two teams in the Western Conference, their fortunes have changed significantly since they met last, exactly two months ago. The teams played to a 2-2 draw that night, the final MLS game at the Cotton Bowl, and while the tie followed seven wins in eight matches for FC Dallas, it started a current string of eight league matches without a victory for the Hoops. The San Jose Earthquakes have lost just once in the eight games since, taking over the top spot in the West and this week becoming the first team to clinch a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
REFEREE: Erich Simmons. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Emiliano Monje; 4th: Adam Garner
MLS Career: 16 games; FC/gm: 33.3; Y/gm: 4.4; R: 7; pens: 2
Games involving FC Dallas: P5 W3 L1 T1; FC/gm: 35.6; Y/gm: 5.2; R: 1; pens: 1
Games involving Earthquakes: P3 W0 L1 T2; FC/gm: 37.7; Y/gm: 4.3; R: 0; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: FC DALLAS - OUT: MF Richard Mulrooney (R knee ACL tear); GK Jeff Cassar (L shoulder separation) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: MF Brad Davis (L groin strain); DF Craig Waibel (R knee torn ACL/LCL); DF Troy Dayak (L knee torn ACL); QUESTIONABLE: FW Brian Ching (R hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: DAL: FW Eddie Johnson, DF Greg Vanney (USA; Sept. 3 v Mexico); FW Carlos Ruiz (Guatemala; Sept. 3 v Trinidad & Tobago) ... SJ: MF Dwayne De Rosario (Canada; Sept. 3 v Spain)
SUSPENDED: DAL: Chris Gbandi (21 CP; through Sept. 4); Clarence Goodson (21 CP; through Sept. 4)
WARNINGS: DAL: Greg Vanney (20 CP), Ronnie O'Brien (16 CP), Simo Valakari (20 CP) ... SJ: Brad Davis (18 CP)
The Western Conference rivals come together for the third of four meetings this season, their second in Dallas but the first-ever meeting at the new Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. The final meeting is set for Sept. 24 at Spartan Stadium.
ALL-TIME (34 meetings): FC Dallas 13 wins (3 shootout), 39 goals ... Earthquakes 18 wins (4 shootout), 60 goals ... 3 draws
IN DALLAS: (17 meetings): FC Dallas 8 wins (1 shootout), 24 goals ...Earthquakes 7 wins (0 shootout), 26 goals ... 2 draw
The teams have played to a pair of draws this year, a scoreless draw in the first meeting in San Jose, then another one in their last meeting, in Dallas.
In the first meeting, the teams played to a bizarre, injury-hit scoreless draw in their first meeting, May 14 at Spartan Stadium. The home side saw center back Troy Dayak, forward Brian Ching and midfielder Brian Mullan all forced to leave through injury, while FC Dallas had influential midfielder Richard Mulrooney and left back David Wagenfuhr also injured over the course of the match. In training leading up to the match, Quakes fullback Craig Waibel was also lost for the season to injury.
Quality chances were few and far between, but FC Dallas goalkeeper Scott Garlick saw more of the two 'keepers, called upon to make a couple of fine saves in short order midway through the second half.
On July 2, in the final MLS match ever at the Cotton Bowl, the Earthquakes twice immediately answered FC Dallas goals as the teams played to a 2-2 draw.
With the full three points guaranteeing Clarke would coach the MLS All-Star team, Arturo Alvarez gave the Hoops a dream start, getting onto the end of a pinpoint Bobby Rhine cross and neatly side-footing home from close range after just four minutes.
Yet just two minutes later the Quakes responded, Brian Mullan getting behind the defense as the flag stayed down despite a hint of offside, pulling inside past FCD 'keeper Scott Garlick and driving the ball into the unguarded goal.
The Earthquakes were left a man down after 35 minutes when center back Danny Califf received his second booking of the match, and after the break FC Dallas finally took advantage, Chris Gbandi playing a neat one-two with Alvarez on the left before skipping forward and letting fly with a low drive from the corner of the area that took a deflection or two before settling into the back of the net (57).
Yet the Quakes again responded within just two minutes with the eventual equalizer, Ricardo Clark making a smooth pull-back at the top of the area before turning and hammering a drive past Garlick into the upper right corner of the goal.
Here's Colin Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Scott Garlick - Drew Moor (Oscar Pareja 46), Clarence Goodson, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi - Simo Valakari - Bobby Rhine, Ronnie O'Brien, Aaron Pitchkolan (Ramon Nunez 84), Arturo Alvarez (Abe Thompson 77) - Roberto Mina
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Kelly Gray, Danny Califf, Eddie Robinson (Ryan Cochrane 20), Wade Barrett - Mark Chung, Ricardo Clark, Danny O'Rourke, Brian Mullan (Wes Hart 62) - Ronald Cerritos, Alejandro Moreno (Julian Nash 70)
A year ago, the Earthquakes won two of the four meetings - one at each ground - while the Dallas Burn claimed one (also away from home) with the final encounter a draw.
The Earthquakes claimed a 2-1 win in Dallas on May 15 (Johnson 66 - Donovan 13, Ching 45), but in their next meeting, July 7 at Spartan Stadium, Dallas returned the favor with a 2-1 victory (Corrales 10 - Quill 6, Valakari 89)
San Jose then captured a dominant 3-0 victory at home on Aug. 21 (Corrales 5, own goal 24, Ching 52), then with fourth place in the Western Conference and the final berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs on offer on Oct. 16 at the Cotton Bowl, the Earthquakes escaped with the point they needed thanks to a 2-2 draw, sending Dallas home for the winter (Johnson 12, Pareja 62 - Ching 34, Corrales 36).
Before the Dallas victory in the second game of last year's series, the Earthquakes had won the last seven meetings between the teams - the final two in 2003, all four in the 2004 season series and the opening match last season.
The Earthquakes have won 10 of the last 15 meetings between the clubs (with three draws), dating back to May 23, 2001. The last Dallas home win in the series came on July 13, 2002, three Earthquakes wins and a draw coming since.
Coaches record: Colin Clarke v SJ: P7 W1 L3 T3 ... Dominic Kinnear vs. DAL: P6 W2 L1 D3
FC Dallas has still not won a league game since the start of July, though they twice overcame leads before both teams settled for a wholly unsatisfying 2-2 draw.
Chivas took the lead in the 36th minute, Esteban Arias latching on to a poor clearance right at the top of the area before sending a low drive back through the mixer that settled into the back of the net.
But FC Dallas pulled even eight minutes later as Carlos Ruiz for the fourth time in three games at the new home of the Hoops. Eddie Johnson skipped past Armando Begines in the right side of the Chivas penalty area before pulling back a rolling ball that Ruiz tapped home from close range.
Yet Chivas again took the lead just before the hour, a corner from the right flicked on at the near post by Ramon Ramirez and Ezra Hendrickson steamed in at the back stick to prod it over the line just in front of the valiant dive by Jeff Cassar. The FCD 'keeper was injured on the play, remaining in a heap in the back of the goal for several minutes, and Scott Garlick had to come on in his place.
Eight minutes later FC Dallas again found the equalizer, this time Chivas failing to clear and ball falling to Ramon Nuñez right at the top of the area, and he hammered a rising blast home to keep Chivas USA still winless on the year away from home and extend their winless run to five games.
FC Dallas boss Colin Clarke made three changes to the team that lost 1-0 away to the Columbus Crew the weekend before. Bobby Rhine came back into the back four for Drew Moor, while Carey Talley and Ramon Nuñez came back into the midfield for Roberto Mina and Aaron Pitchkolan, as Clarke returned to a 4-4-2 scheme.
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-3-2): Jeff Cassar (Scott Garlick 63) - Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, Chris Gbandi - Simo Valakari - Ronnie O'Brien (Roberto Mina 89), Carey Talley (Oscar Pareja 86), Ramon Nunez - Eddie Johnson, Carlos Ruiz
"First half we dominated the game," said Clarke. "We had a couple chances (and) the first goal we knew was going to be important. We dragged ourselves back twice from behind; we showed a lot of character. ... We played 120 hard minutes on Wednesday night and I think it took its toll on us toward the end. We couldn't get close enough to them at times and we gave up a few chances."
FC Dallas saw their winless run now stretched to a club-record eight games, twice coming back before settling for a 2-2 draw with Chivas USA on Aug. 27 at Pizza Hut Park. FC Dallas still remains in second place in the Western Conference, with 36 points from 23 matches, now eight points behind leader San Jose Earthquakes and just a point ahead of third-place Los Angeles Galaxy.
Clarke reverted to a 4-4-2 scheme, eschewing the three-attacker scheme he's used much of the season. It put Eddie Johnson in a more traditional forward position, and returned Ronnie O'Brien to a wider role in the midfield.
"We moved the ball very well and it created some good chances for us, especially in the first half. We were sharp and lively, Eddie had a good assist, Carlos got his goal again, and we did a lot of good stuff," Clarke said. "We had two good chances from inside 12 yards in the first half, and if one of those goes in, we're one up and it's a different story."
Said Johnson: "I like it. It's less running for me. Whenever there is less running and I don't have to do as much defending. I'm more effective when I have the ball. I get the ball and I'm not as tired and I think that I'm more dangerous."
Ruiz also scored his fourth goal in three games at Pizza Hut Park. But the Hoops have yet to inaugurate their new home with a victory.
"It's hard you know," said Ruiz. "It's a lot of games - this team played last Wednesday in D.C. - it was a hard game over there ... well for the fans, I feel very, very sad. Everybody has come here to watch FC Dallas and Dallas can't win at home the last three games."
Still, the Hoops saw their league winless run extended, though they have won twice in the Open Cup against league opposition over the stretch, defeating the Columbus Crew in extra time in early August, then knocking off D.C. United on penalties after a 1-1 draw on earlier in the week.
"You have to find some positives in everything and twice we came from one goal down so that is the positive spin," Valakari said. "We know that we should have taken all three points so we just have to keep getting better and stay positive."
Nuñez took his first goal in MLS play. A product of Southern Methodist University, the local boy but Honduras U-20 international had trained with the club before his selection in last year's SuperDraft.
"I'm happy with it, we passed the ball well and had some chances, unfortunately we couldn't put them away," he said. "We started the game a little slow but we showed that we could fight back. We just need to keep that same momentum and rhythm for 90 minutes to win games."
FC Dallas will be without goalkeeper Jeff Cassar likely through the rest of the regular season, after he suffered a separation of the AC joint in his right shoulder that forced him off injured in the draw with Chivas. "It's obviously a huge loss to be without your starting 'keeper, and it looks like he'll probably be out for six weeks minimum," Clarke said. "That pretty much takes us to the end of the regular season so we just have to re-evaluate our situation and decide whether or not we need to add someone to the roster."
Then on Thursday, the Hoops announced the signing of 26-year-old English-born midfielder Mark Wilson. A product of the Manchester United youth scheme, he made three first-team appearances for the Red Devils before moving to Middlebrough in 2001, where he made 16 league appearances. He also played on loan for Wrexham, Stoke City, Swansea City, Sheffield Wednesday and Doncaster Rovers in England, and Livingston in Scotland.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The Earthquakes and Galaxy were playing for the second time in as many matches on the same ground, as four days earlier L.A. had again knocked San Jose out of the Open Cup with a 2-1 victory in a quarterfinal match.
The Earthquakes took the lead in the 23rd minute, when Mark Chung swung in a free kick from the right and former Galaxy striker Alejandro Moreno got the slightest touches on the ball as he and Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman challenged for the ball.
The Galaxy pulled level 14 minutes later when Landon Donovan scored his first goal against his former club with a touch of brillance, collecting the ball outside the area and hitting a dipping, swerving shot that slammed into the upper corner.
But in the 75th minute, a third goal from a third player sent from one California rival to the other provided the match-winner. Ronald Cerritos put in a corner kick from the right and defender Danny Califf powerfully headed home from the near post to move the Earthquakes eight points clear in the West.
Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear made no changes to the team that defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 at Rice-Eccles Stadium the weekend before, as Brad Davis was still out with a groin strain, aggravated in the Open Cup loss.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-3-1-2): Pat Onstad - Kelly Gray (Ryan Cochrane 63), Danny Califf, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett - Brian Mullan, Ricardo Clark, Mark Chung - Dwayne De Rosario - Ronald Cerritos, Alejandro Moreno
"I thought the first 30 minutes we came out and we were great. We knocked the ball around well and scored a nice goal, but then they had a nice finish by Landon [Donovan] that set us back a bit. We came out in the second half with the right attitude," Kinnear said. "I said to the team before the game that I had a good feeling about set pieces tonight and we worked on it a little bit yesterday at practice. I felt that with good service and good runs we could get something off off of it tonight and we were able to get two goals. Overall, there were some scary moments, but there always are when these two teams play, it is always well fought."
The San Jose Earthquakes extended their league unbeaten string to six games, overcoming a midweek loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy at midweek to claim the second meeting between the teams in four days at Spartan Stadium, a 2-1 victory on Saturday night. The Quakes extended their advantage atop the Western Conference to eight points, now with 44 points from 24 matches, one behind the New England Revolution in the race for the MLS Supporters' Shield signifying the league's best overall record, and thanks to D.C. United win against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday became the first team to clinch a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
All three goals were scored by players facing their former club. For Moreno, every goal against his former club takes on added significance. "Obviously it is special to score against L.A.," said Moreno. "I feel like in L.A. I didn't get the opportunities I deserved. It's certainly good to show that they let a good player go."
For Califf, the game-winning goal against his former club ranks among the major highlights of his six-year MLS career. "I've envisioned this moment ever since I came up here," said Califf, who had spent his entire MLS career in Los Angeles before this season. "I didn't exactly know how it would feel. It feels really, really good."
Califf had a falling-out with Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson prior to the season, leading to his departure from the club. "It was pretty clear that I was not going to be with L.A. much longer. There's always a little bitterness, whether you like to say it or not," he said. "I think Landon would say the same thing. To come out on top and shove it right back in them - that's even better."
While the Quakes were disappointed at once again losing to the Galaxy in the Open Cup (the fourth time their southern rivals have knocked them out of the national championship), the league win in front a vibrant crowd made up for it.
"You could feel the electricity tonight from the moment you walked out of the locker room, it was an important game for us," Onstad said. "The last thing we wanted to do was let L.A. back into the chase with us. We knew that getting three points from them would make it difficult for them to catch us, so we accomplished what we wanted to."
Said Kinnear: "I always say that if you want to see the best club match in America, you need to come to Spartan Stadium when the Galaxy take on the Earthquakes. I don't care if the crowd is zero or 25,000, it is still the best club match to watch and tonight was another great example of that."
Kinnear said Brian Ching will likely travel to Dallas this weekend. He is expected to be available as a substitute for the league game on Saturday, though he will probably be held out of the reserve match Sunday (which helped allow his travel with the team. Ching told the San Jose Mercury News he is "90 to 95 percent'' healed. "I still have a ways to go,'' he said.