Zuniga's Chivas USA debut a downer
Chivas USA's No. 1 goalkeeper finally appeared Sunday night but it was FC Dallas who stole the show, as Carlos Ruiz, Ronnie O'Brien and Eddie Johnson scored in the first 25 minutes of the second half to lift FC Dallas against Chivas USA 5-2 at Home Depot Center.
The loss was the largest suffered by Chivas USA and the five Dallas goals were the most the Red-and-White has allowed this season.
Martin Zuniga, finally healthy after suffering a preseason knee injury, replaced Brad Guzan in goal. But FC Dallas took advantage of the veteran Mexican 'keeper's unfamiliarity with Major League Soccer, blitzing the veteran with long-range blasts all night.
The match started rather ominously for Chivas USA as FC Dallas took the lead after just 35 seconds.
O'Brien easily beat a slow-footed Armando Begines, darted inside the penalty area and slipped a pass across the area. Both Johnson and Ruiz fanned on it, but Ramon Nunez controlled the ball on the left side of the area. With plenty of space in front of him, he fired a shot that Aaron Pitchkolan re-directed past Zuniga.
Chivas USA did not lose composure despite spotting FC Dallas a quick goal. The club settled in and had stretches of play when it controlled possession and moved the ball into the FC Dallas third but could not put pressure on Dallas keeper Scott Garlick.
Persistence and speed paid off for the Red-and-White. In the 18th minute, Francisco Mendoza beat Bobby Rhine to a loose ball and raced past him inside the penalty area. Rhine tripped up the 19-year-old speedster and referee Alex Prus awarded the hosts a spot kick. Hector Cuadros, who scored the club's only game-winner on a penalty kick two weeks ago, converted the penalty to even the match in the 19th minute.
Chivas USA continued to build possession and control the tempo of the match. In the 31st minute, Romo won a free kick from 20 yards out after a hard FC Dallas challenge, but Cuadros curled the free kick into Garlick's arms.
Mendoza continued to energize Chivas USA's attack. In the 34th minute, he sped past a pair of FC Dallas defenders and found Thiago Martins alone at the top of the penalty area but sailed a high over the crossbar.
FC Dallas clawed and scratched its way back into the game and toward the end of the first half they had more pressure on goal. A corner kick in the 41st minute nearly resulted in danger but Chivas USA cleared the ball after it bounced untouched in the area. A minute later, Nunez blasted a 25-yard shot that just missed the crossbar.
The second half had more early fireworks, as in the 48th minute, Ruiz struck. The Guatemalan international shielded Douglas Sequeira from a long-distance cross, creating space for himself. He won the ball, took a few steps and fired a low shot that beat Zuniga to his near side.
Three minutes later, it was O'Brien's turn to beat Zuniga. O'Brien took the ball some 35 yards out, shook off Francisco Gomez and took a few steps into the open space in front of him. With Zuniga a good six yards off his line, O'Brien floated a shot past "El Pulpo" and into the back of the net.
But Chivas USA responded yet again. Cuadros won a ball to the right of FC Dallas' penalty area. He curled a cross to the center of the area and Romo powered a header into the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
Things settled down for the next quarter hour, but Johnson took his turn at beating Zuniga. Pitchkolan ran relatively unmarked toward the penalty area and passed to his right. Johnson ran onto the ball and struck it past Zuniga.
Martins almost got a goal back for the Red-and-White in the 77th minute. On a 40-yard free kick, Ryan Suarez headed the ball down. It hit an FC Dallas defender and fell to the ground. Martins ran onto the ball, had Garlick beaten but knocked the ball well wide. Then Ramirez nearly scored his first MLS goal in the 88th minute but just missed a 20-yard blast from straightaway.
Roberto Mina gave FC Dallas its fifth goal after scoring on a counterattack in stoppage time, curling the ball home from outside the area after Zuniga bravely came off his line to clear away from Ruiz as he dribbled into the area, but the Ecuadorian found the unguarded goal.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Ronnie O'Brien (FC Dallas)
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or tis clubs.
FC Dallas (4-1-3) vs. CD Chivas USA (1-6-1)
May 22, 2005 -- The Home Depot Center
DAL -- Aaron Pitchkolan 1 (Ramon Nunez 2, Ronnie O'Brien 4) 1
CHV -- Hector Cuadros 3 (penalty kick) 19
DAL -- Carlos Ruiz 5 (Ronnie O'Brien 5) 48
DAL -- Ronnie O'Brien 4 (Carlos Ruiz 3) 51
CHV -- Isaac Romo 2 (Hector Cuadros 1) 53
DAL -- Eddie Johnson 5 (Aaron Pitchkolan 1) 69
DAL -- Roberto Mina 1 (unassisted) 91+
FC Dallas -- Scott Garlick, Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, Chris Gbandi, Aaron Pitchkolan, Ronnie O'Brien (Arturo Alvarez 86), Ramon Nunez (Drew Moor 68), Simo Valakari, Eddie Johnson (Roberto Mina 75), Carlos Ruiz.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Cassar, Oscar Pareja.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Carlos Ruiz 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 11 (Carlos Ruiz 4); FOULS: 21 (Roberto Mina 4); OFFSIDES: 4 (Eddie Johnson 2); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Greg Vanney 4); SAVES: 3 (Scott Garlick 3)
CD Chivas USA -- Martin Zuniga, Ezra Hendrickson, Francisco Gomez (Orlando Perez 58), Ryan Suarez, Armando Begines, Hector Cuadros, Ramon Ramirez, Douglas Sequeira, Isaac Romo, Thiago Martins, Francisco Mendoza.
Substitutes Not Used: Victor Arbelaez, Milton Blanco, Brad Guzan, Christian Jimenez, Aaron Lopez, Antonio Martinez, Matt Taylor, Arturo Torres.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Isaac Romo 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Hector Cuadros 2, Isaac Romo 2); FOULS: 17 (Ezra Hendrickson 4); OFFSIDES: 2 (Francisco Mendoza 1, Isaac Romo 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Francisco Gomez 3); SAVES: 6 (Martin Zuniga 6)
DAL -- Clarence Goodson (caution; Pushing, Holding) 15
DAL -- Chris Gbandi (caution; Reckless Foul) 31
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: -Robert Fereday; David Bragg
4th Official: Ramon Hernandez
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.