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PIZZA HUT PARK
7:30 pm CT (ONN)
FC Dallas return home for their final three games of the season to close out the campaign, with a couple of chances ahead to leapfrog the Los Angeles Galaxy and regain home-field advantage for the Western Conference Semifinals. Two points behind the Galaxy with two fewer games played, they could be unreachable by the end of the weekend after facing the Columbus Crew then the Colorado Rapids. The Crew head to Texas still alive despite a loss to Chivas USA over the weekend, but now must win out - while also needing both the Kansas City Wizards and MetroStars to keep from winning.
REFEREE: Gus St. Silva. SAR (bench): George Vergara; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Kevin Terry
MLS Career: 33 games; FC/gm: 33.9; Y/gm: 4.3; R: 7; pens: 7
Games involving FC Dallas: P10 W7 L1 T2; FC/gm: 30.2; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 0; pens: 1
Games involving Crew: P5 W3 L1 T1; FC/gm: 35.2; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 3; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: FC DALLAS - OUT: GK Jeff Cassar (R shoulder separation); FW Eddie Johnson (R toe stress-related injury); MF Richard Mulrooney (R knee surgery); DOUBTFUL: MF Ronnie O'Brien (lower back contusion ... COLUMBUS CREW - OUT: DF Chad Marshall (R shoulder sprain); MF Danny Szetela (head); DF Ryan Kelly (R knee sprain); DF Frankie Hejduk (R wrist); DF Stephen Herdsman (L groin strain); MF Duncan Oughton (R knee surgery); MD Ross Paule (post-concussion syndrome); GK Jon Busch (R knee); PROBABLE: MF Eric Vasquez (R ankle sprain)
SUSPENDED: DAL: Clarence Goodson (21 CP; through Oct. 5); Greg Vanney (through Oct. 5)
WARNINGS: DAL: Bobby Rhine (20 CP); Ronnie O'Brien (19 CP); Simo Valakari (10 add'l CP) ... CLB: Robin Fraser (9 add'l CP); Frankie Hejduk (17 CP); Simon Elliott (19 CP); Chris Wingert (8 add'l CP)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: DAL: Carlos Ruiz (Guatemala; v Mexico, Oct. 8); Roberto Mina (Ecuador; v Uruguay, Oct. 8) ... CLB: Mario Rodriguez (Guatemala; v Mexico, Oct. 8); Kyle Martino (USA; vs. Costa Rica, Oct. 8)
HEAD-TO-HEADThis is the second of two league meetings set for this season, the only one to be played at Pizza Hut Park. They also met once in the U.S. Open Cup, the teams having split their encounters this year across the competitions.
ALL-TIME (27 meetings): FC Dallas 11 wins (1 shootout), 37 goals ... Crew 10 wins (1 shootout), 34 goals ... 6 draws
AT DALLAS: (14 meetings): FC Dallas 8 wins (1 shootout), 21 goals ... Crew 3 wins (1 shootout), 10 goals ... 1 draw
LAST MEETINGA late goal gave the Columbus Crew a 1-0 victory against FC Dallas on Aug. 20 at Crew Stadium. A pair of teams riding losing streaks battled through a mostly tentative affair that was interrupted by a thunderstorm before Cornell Glen's 81st-minute goal gave the Crew the victory.
Chris Henderson got out of the corner with a nutmeg and drove a rolling ball in the heart of the FC Dallas goal area. Glen deflected the ball goalward with a neat touch with the inside of his heel, FCD defender Chris Gbandi just unable to hook the ball off the line.
Here's Warzycha's team (3-4-2-1): Jonny Walker - Chad Marshall, Robin Fraser, Mark Schulte - Frankie Hejduk (Eric Vasquez 89), Simon Elliott, Danny Szetela, Chris Henderson - Marcus Storey (Domenic Mediate 70), Kyle Martino - John Wolyniec (Cornell Glen 63)
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Jeff Cassar - Drew Moor, Clarence Goodson, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi - Simo Valakari - Roberto Mina (Arturo Alvarez 79), Aaron Pitchkolan (Eddie Johnson 66), Carey Talley (Ramon Nunez 88), Ronnie O'Brien - Carlos Ruiz
THIS SEASONEarlier this year, FC Dallas eliminated the Crew from the U.S. Open Cup when Columbus was reduced to nine men in extra time then allowed two goals in a 3-1 FC Dallas win in a fourth-round tie at Crew Stadium on Aug. 3. 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 by referee Ricardo Salazar 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.
HISTORYA year ago, the Crew didn't lose in the season series, the teams playing to a pair of scoreless draws before Columbus claimed a victory in the third meeting. The two scoreless draws were split over the two grounds, first on May 1 at Crew Stadium then on July 10 at the Cotton Bowl.
Then on July 28 in Columbus, the Crew claimed a 2-1 victory (Buddle 38, 43 - Kreis 59)
The last Dallas league victory in the series came June 29, 2002, a 1-0 golden goal victory in Big D. Since then, the Crew have gone unbeaten in the last six league contests (four victories).
Dallas has never won at Columbus Crew Stadium. The Crew have six wins (with five draws) in the last 11 meetings between the clubs in the Ohio capital dating back to the 1999 season - the last Dallas win in Columbus came July 25, 1998 - at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University. Ironically, the Crew lost three of their first four home games ever against Dallas.
Coaches record: Colin Clarke v CLB: P4 W0 L2 T2 ... Robert Warzycha vs. DAL: P1 W1 L0 T0
FC Dallas lost for the first time in four league matches, but still lost for the second time in four days to the Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center, this time a 2-1 decision in a regular season contest on Saturday night. FC Dallas fell back into third place in the Western Conference with the reversal, now with 43 points from 29 matches, two behind the Galaxy and just three ahead of fourth-place Colorado Rapids, though the Galaxy have played two matches more.
Just four days after the teams met in the U.S. Open Cup Final, Herculez Gomez continued his remarkable run of form as the Galaxy defeated FC Dallas for the second time in the week, leapfrogging over them into second place in the West.
Gomez, who scored the only goal of Wednesday's Open Cup Final in Carson, struck after just 12 minutes in the league encounter. Ned Grabavoy played a perfectly weighted ball over the FCD backline, and after fighting off a defender in the area, Gomez hammered home an angled drive off the inside of the far post.
The Hoops pulled level just before the halftime break, a cross from right only half-cleared, but falling right to Aaron Pitchkolan just outside the area, and he pounded home a rising first-time shot past Kevin Hartman.
But two minutes into first-half stoppage time the Galaxy again drew ahead, again through Gomez. He charged down an attempted clearance by David Wagenfuhr, raced past the second-year defender and then cheekily chipped FCD 'keeper Scott Garlick from just inside the area for his 11th league goal and 17 in all competitions.
FC Dallas were left a man down for the final 40 minutes after Greg Vanney was sent off for a challenge from behind on Joseph Ngwenya, and while the Galaxy had a stunning series of chances, they couldn't increase the scoreline though running out easy victors.
FC Dallas boss Colin Clarke kept just four players from the team that started against the San Jose Earthquakes a week earlier in league play, but made three changes to the team that started the Open Cup Final at midweek. Ronnie O'Brien was injured and Carey Talley suspended, while Arturo Alvarez returned to the substitutes' bench, as Oscar Pareja, Aaron Pitchkolan and Steve Jolley came into the team in their place.
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Scott Garlick - Clarence Goodson, Steve Jolley, Greg Vanney, David Wagenfuhr (Arturo Alvarez 79) - Oscar Pareja (Drew Moor 59) - Bobby Rhine, Aaron Pitchkolan, Mark Wilson, Ramon Nunez - Roberto Mina (Abe Thompson 70)
"We definitely deserved to get something from the game. We played well enough, even with 10 men, to get something from the game. But our own errors cost us two goals in the first half," Clarke said.
TEAM NEWSFC Dallas will have some real problems in attack this week. Strikers Eddie Johnson (toe stress fracture), Carlos Ruiz (Guatemala national team duty) and Roberto Mina (Ecuador) will all be out for both games in the week, first the Crew game, then the match vs. Colorado at the weekend.
Clarke is hopeful Ronnie O'Brien can play Wednesday and expects Ruiz (strained hamstring) to play in the regular season finale at home against Kansas City Oct. 15. As for Johnson, Clarke said, "come playoff time, maybe he'll get some minutes. We're hopeful."
O'Brien said the swelling in his back has gone down but "it's still very tender. One knock there and it could be back again. I'm planning on (playing Wednesday). We need some wins."
The Hoops will also have some issues in defense for the Crew match, with Vanney and Clarence Goodson both suspended. "It'll be interesting, the next game," Vanney said. "It's frustrating. It's not just injuries to our attacking guys, it's suspensions to our guys in midfield (Carey Talley and Simo Valakari served match suspensions Saturday). You defend that little bit less.
"Take away that last 30 minutes, that was a little bit false, but they're not really breaking us down. We're making mistakes," he added. "Their second goal was a little bit silly. We had a short free kick. They like to have a wide-open game. We need to be more disciplined and be a little more compact in defense."
The loss to the Galaxy increases the chances of these two teams meeting in the Western Conference semifinals, though the Hoops insist two losses in four days to L.A. won't play with their heads.
"We sit and talk with the young guys," Vanney said. "Obviously, they're a team that struggles on the road but they're pretty good at home." Added Clarke: "Both games have been pretty spirited. We've been here and they've beat us twice and they've been to our place twice and we've beaten them."
The Columbus Crew are still alive mathematically for a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but suffered a disastrous 1-0 loss to Chivas USA on Saturday night at Crew Stadium. The Crew are still in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 34 points from 29 matches, and can only reach the playoffs by winning out.
Chivas USA won on the road for the first time ever, in their 15th away match of the campaign, and ensured the Crew will not have a winning record at home on the season for the first time in club history.
The lone goal came in the 59th minute: Francisco Mendoza intercepted a pass and sent a square ball to Francisco Palencia, who sent a low drive screaming inside Jonny Walker's right-hand post from the edge of the area.
While the loss did not completely eliminate the Crew from the postseason, they need to win each of their final three games remaining while requiring the Wizards and MetroStars to lose each of theirs.
Crew interim head coach Robert Warzycha made no changes to the team that defeated Real Salt Lake 2-1 in Utah the previous weekend.
Here's Warzycha's team (3-4-1-2): Jonny Walker - Chad Marshall (Stephen Armstrong 45), Robin Fraser, Mark Schulte - Mario Rodriguez (Cornell Glen 77), Simon Elliott, Chris Wingert, Chris Henderson - Kyle Martino - Knox Cameron (John Wolyniec 65), Edson Buddle.
"You know they came here to get the point, then they would be satisfied with the point. They came here to defend, as you saw everybody in the box. It is sometimes difficult to break down the defense, as it was today," Warzycha said. "We didn't have any idea how to do it. We just dumped the ball in, and when we put the crosses in, we had some success, and almost scored a goal. We didn't have a spark from anybody. We played with the same speed all the time. The game slipped away."
TEAM NEWSThe loss in the Crew's final home match gave the home side the first losing record for the season at home in their history.
"I guess I'm writing the history of being under .500 at home. That's not good for me or for the team obviously. I think everyone is disappointed, not only here in this room, but mainly in the locker room. What can I say?" Warzycha said.
While Columbus was punished just once after giving Francisco Mendoza and Juan Francisco Palencia an opening, the myriad chances that the Crew wasted over the course of the night was even more hurtful. The lack of finishing gives the Ohio squad a clear aim for the offseason.
"Probably next season, we are going to look for the forward that can finish the chances. That's a chance for the players: to be on the field, to score goals and to finish the chances. And if you're not scoring the goals, what's the solution? You have to bring in somebody that will," Warzycha said.
Only the loss by the Kansas City Wizards to the Chicago Fire kept the Crew from officially being eliminated in front of the home fans.
"Obviously, not good enough. No one here is happy about it. Certainly we had higher aspirations for our season overall. Definitely, our games at home," captain Robin Fraser said. "It's been disappointing, we just haven't done well enough. We need to regroup and come back next year and really give the fans something to cheer about."