PIZZA HUT PARK
7:30 pm CT (FSC; MSG)
The latest soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer opens Saturday as FC Dallas move into their new Frisco home, playing host to the MetroStars - who had exciting stadium news of their own leading into the match. For FC Dallas, they will have a chance to make Pizza Hut Park comfortable - they are still in first place in the West after playing 13 of their first 19 games on the road, with 10 of their last 13 at home. The MetroStars were struggling to find consistency coming into the All-Star break, dumped out of the U.S. Open Cup by second-tier Rochester in their first game after the midsummer recess.
REFEREE: Brian Hall. SAR (bench): George Gansner; JAR (opposite): Fabio Tovar; 4th: Adam Garner
MLS Career: 96 games; FC/gm: 29.7; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 25; pens: 30
Games involving FC Dallas: P20 W12 L6 T2; FC/gm: 27.9; Y/gm: 2.6; R: 5; pens: 11
Games involving MetroStars: P20 W6 L13 T1; FC/gm: 30.1; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 3; pens: 7
INJURY REPORT: FC DALLAS - OUT: MF Richard Mulrooney (R knee ACL tear); PROBABLE: FW Eddie Johnson (R toe stress-related injury) ... METROSTARS - OUT: DF Jeff Parke (L hamstring strain); GK Mike Ueltschey (R finger fracture); DF:Tim Regan (R foot metacarpal fracture); DF Ryan Suarez (R MCL sprain); MF Ramon Bailey (L knee infection); QUESTIONABLE: MF Amado Guevara (L meniscus tear); DF Tim Ward (L hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
WARNINGS: DAL: MF Simo Valakari (20 CP); DF Clarence Goodson (19 CP)
ALL-TIME (25 meetings): FC Dallas 12 wins, 42 goals ... MetroStars 12 wins, 34 goals ... 1 draw
AT DALLAS (11 meetings): FC Dallas 5 wins, 19 goals ... MetroStars 6 wins, 17 goals ... 0 draws
This is the second game of the home-and-home series between the clubs on either side of the All-Star break, and their only meeting in Texas this season as they open Pizza Hut Park, the new ground for FC Dallas.
A year ago, the teams met three times - the road team winning each one, shutting out the home time in each contest. Dallas won the first two, the MetroStars winning the third.
On June 5, the then-Burn won 2-0 at Giants Stadium (Johnson 51, Nhleko 90), then they won 1-0 on Aug. 15 (Nhleko 90). The Metros then won the final meeting, a 2-0 scoreline on Sept. 25 (Wolyniec 30, Glen 90).
The Dallas victories a year ago were the first for that club in the series in four games, dating back to 2002, the Metros winning three of the games in that stretch. But that answered a four-game Dallas winning streak.
Coaches record: Bob Bradley v DAL: P24 W12 L10 D2 ... Colin Clarke vs. MET: P5 W2 L2 D1
LAST MEETING In the first match of this home-and-home series, the MetroStars got two goals within six minutes midway through the second half to overcome the first two goals of Clarence Goodson's pro career in a 3-2 win against FC Dallas at Giants Stadium on July 27.
In the seventh minute, Youri Djorkaeff threaded a pass that freed Ante Razov towards goal and Razov beat Garlick for his sixth goal of the year and 84th of his career, moving into sole possession of fourth place all-time in league history for an early Metros lead.
But Goodson scored on either side of halftime to give the visitors the lead. In the 38th minute he found his way between MetroStars defenders and tapped in Roberto Mina's cross for his first career MLS goal. The tall defender then doubled his career total less than two minutes into the second half when he followed Bobby Rhine's header off the crossbar by poking the ball past Tony Meola to give Dallas a 2-1 lead.
But on 68 minutes Mike Magee tied the game for the Metros, albeit with a little help from Garlick. The Dallas 'keeper couldn't handle Djorkaeff's corner and Magee was at the back post to knock in the freebie.
Then six minutes later Sergio Galvan Rey hit for the match-winner, Razov putting Galvan Rey in alone behind the Hoops defense and hitting a shot that Garlick reached but couldn't keep out of the back of the net.
FC Dallas enter the second half of the season tied for the top spot in the Western Conference with 34 points from 19 matches, tied with the San Jose Earthquakes but with a match in hand, both teams five points ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy. FC Dallas went into the All-Star break riding a three-game losing streak and winless in four games after winning seven of their previous eight.
Against the MetroStars, Colin Clarke made three changes to the team that lost 3-0 to Real Salt Lake the previous weekend at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Greg Vanney returned from national team duty, coming into central defense for Steve Jolley. David Wagenfuhr came in at left back for Chris Gbandi, while Aaron Pitchkolan also returned to the lineup, coming in for Oscar Pareja in the center of midfield.
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Scott Garlick - Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, David Wagenfuhr - Simo Valakari - Roberto Mina (Abe Thompson 81), Ronnie O'Brien, Aaron Pitchkolan (Ramon Nunez 83), Arturo Alvarez - Carlos Ruiz
"We're having a sticky patch right now and have to fight our way through it. We've got to go away and get ourselves right for [this] week," Clarke said. "We've got an Open Cup game Wednesday. I believe and everyone in this room believes, we're a good team, and we're going to be there at the end, and we've got to go away and come back and focus on cutting out the individual mistakes."
It was a second time in three matches FC Dallas had given up a one-goal lead in the second half. "I don't think we let down. I think we did a good enough job of keeping the ball and tried to be a little too direct with our passes in looking for the third one," Clarke said. "We could have moved it around a little bit more and made it a little harder defensively. But we were still in control of the game, and there's only going to be one team who is going to win it, who is going to score the third goal. Just when you think you've seen it all, they come up with a second goal."
TEAM NEWS FC Dallas is thrilled to returning home - especially to their new ground - especially after the three losses heading into the All-Star break. "It's been a long, hard season for us," Ronnie O'Brien said. "The last couple of weeks have taken its toll on us. We've been a bit flat, a bit tired."
The Hoops had 13 of their first 19 games on the road, but they will now have 10 of their final 13 at home, including seven of the next eight. "We've been on a little bit of a skid. We've got to refocus," Greg Vanney said. "We've had a little bit of a concentration lapse getting ahead of ourselves and looking forward to getting home and opening the new stadium."
On Monday, the club saw their new home for the first time, putting it through some early paces in a dress rehearsal training session. The stadium won't quite be finished - 15,000 seats will be available for the opener - but that hasn't deterred the excitement in the least.
"The L.A. stadium is great but this stadium is going to be better. The stadium is so compact and the way the seats are designed, the fans will have it rocking up here and the atmosphere, it might be a better place to play than L.A.," said O'Brien. "When players come here they are going to see the stadium, dressing rooms and the atmosphere and they are going to want to play here. With the cheap housing and the economy, why not play here?"
On Wednesday, FC Dallas booked passage to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-1 victory against a nine-man Columbus Crew in extra time at Crew Stadium. Carey Talley knocked home an Oscar Pareja service in the 29th minute, but the Crew equalized seven minutes later as Kyle Martino finished off a lovely passing sequence.
The draw stayed intact into extra time, when Danny Szetela and Frankie Hejduk were sent off with direct red cards within four minutes for fouls on Arturo Alvarez. Abe Thompson's powerful drive gave FC Dallas the lead in the 113th minute, then Eddie Johnson converted a penalty three minutes later after he was taken down by Jamal Sutton to provide the final margin.
FC Dallas boss Colin Clarke opted for mostly reserve side, as none of their four MLS All-Star participants (Scott Garlick, Greg Vanney, Simo Valakari and Ronnie O'Brien) were in the gameday squad. However, Carlos Ruiz did make the starting XI for the visitors, and Eddie Johnson entered as a substitute after missing the All-Star match with an injury.
Here's Clarke's team: Jeff Cassar, Bobby Rhine, Steve Jolley, Drew Moor, David Wagenfuhr, Aaron Pitchkolan, Oscar Pareja (Eddie Johnson 77), Carey Talley, Roberto Mina (Arturo Alvarez 62), Carlos Ruiz (Abe Thompson 58), Ramon Nunez (Clarence Goodson 88).
The MetroStars begin the second half of the campaign in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 28 points from 20 matches, a point behind D.C. United and the Kansas City Wizards tied in third place, and seven points ahead of sixth-place Columbus Crew. The win against FC Dallas in the match before the All-Star break snapped a three-game winless run and was their third win in their last 10 matches.
Against FC Dallas, MetroStars coach Bob Bradley made two changes. Chris Leitch came in at right back for Ryan Suarez, while Youri Djorkaeff started for the second time in six matches in July, coming into the team in place of Abbe Ibrahim.
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Tony Meola - Chris Leitch, Carlos Mendes, Jeff Parke (Seth Stammler 46), Jeff Agoos -Michael Bradley (Mike Magee 64), Mark Lisi - Eddie Gaven (Danilo da Silva 89), Sergio Galvan Rey - Ante Razov, Youri Djorkaeff
"I think before tonight, in six of the seven games we had the lead, so you can look at a lot of things, but if you are taking the lead in six or seven games you want to take home points and we have not done a good enough job of finishing games, so it was especially important tonight to get three points and especially important when the game is on the line to know how to finish," Bradley said.
Bradley was pleased with the effort given by his front two in the first Dallas game, as both Razov and Djorkaeff were less than 100 percent.
"Ante is still just working himself back. The good thing about Ante is that even when he is not 100 percent sharp and fit and everything else, he is still a threat to score goals. Since he's been here I think that's five. That's his plus. I see him little by little rounding into shape," Bradley said. "And Youri, he was really frustrated after the Colorado game. And we talked about trying to have a little bit of a plan. We had tentatively talked about the next Dallas game ... and if we can get him over that hump and keep him in it game in and game out, I know he's got a lot more to give."
TEAM NEWS The MetroStars were once again bounced out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at the first hurdle by lower division opposition, falling 3-1 to the USL First Division (second tier) Rochester Raging Rhinos on Wednesday night at Frontier Field.
Defender Scott Palguta hammered home a loose ball after Metros 'keeper Zach Wells spilled a corner in the 20th minute, then 10 minutes later Mauro Carabajal doubled the lead. The Rhinos outshot the Metros 6-0 in the first half.
The Rhinos won a penalty in the 58th minute when Seth Stammler tripped up Jonathan Bolaños, Rene Rivas converting from the spot, before the Metros pulled a goal back late when Sergio Galvan Rey knocked home a Tim Ward cross.
It was the third time in seven years the Metros were knocked out by a lower-level team. After reaching the 2003 Open Cup Final, a year ago the MetroStars met a similar fate as on Wednesday, losing their opening Open Cup match to the USL's First Division Charleston Battery. They also lost to the Battery in 2001, while in 1999 they lost to then A-League Staten Island Vipers.
Here's Bradley's team: Zach Wells, Danilo daSilva (Jeff Agoos 85), Chris Leitch (Tim Ward 65), Carlos Mendes, Seth Stammler, Michael Bradley, Mark Lisi, Eddie Gaven, Mike Magee, Sergio Galvan Rey, Abbe Ibrahim (Ante Razov 59)
Then on Thursday, AEG and the MetroStars announced an agreement has been reached to bring a new 20,000 seat stadium and entertainment complex to Harrison, N.J., to serve as the home for the club The new soccer stadium is the highest profile project within the redevelopment of the historic Harrison waterfront, one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in recent state history.
"After a long journey filled with many ups and downs this is one of the proudest days of my life," said Nick Sakiewicz, President of AEG, NY/NJ. "The commitment to deliver on a promise made to MetroStars fans and the people of this area is something that I have never wavered on and, I always knew this day would come. This stadium will be a very special place that will reflect the passion that the people of this area have for the sport of soccer, and the history that has made this area a hotbed of soccer in this country."