FC Dallas again walked off the Pizza Hut Park field with a familiar feeling on Saturday night. But after a 2-1 loss to D.C. United -- a fifth consecutive match in their new home where they failed to win -- it's wasn't a feeling the Hoops were thrilled about again experiencing.
Facundo Erpen put United in the lead in the 15th minute when he knocked home a corner kick with a side volley in the middle of the box.
But it was United's second goal in the 72nd minute that brought the more intense scrutiny. Santino Quaranta was the recipient of a nice cross from Jamil Walker, who received the ball after a long up-field clearance from United goalkeeper Nick Rimando. The question was whether or not D.C. was playing the ball out for an injured Clarence Goodson, as is traditionally done as a sign of sportsmanship.
"I thought we had an injured player," said FCD center back Greg Vanney. "Usually there is some kind of courtesy that goes along with an injured player.
"Next thing I know the ball is dropped behind us, I think Bobby [Rhine] was confused thinking they were giving the ball to us, and in reality their player was going in one-on-one with our 'keeper."
Overall Rhine played a great game, starting out as a wide midfielder and sliding back into the back four after Drew Moor was taken off for Carlos Ruiz in the 62nd minute. Rhine has featured at forward, in the midfield and in the back for the Hoops this season.
"We all know Bobby is versatile," said Clarke. "He continues to be so. He's a very honest player, he does very well wherever you play him."
The Hoops had a radical new look to the starting 11 with Carlos Ruiz and Eddie Johnson both held out.
"It's my decision," said Clarke on the benching of his two star forwards. "I had reasons, we'll keep it internal."
FC Dallas is now winless in 10 consecutive games, nearing closer to the all-time MLS record set in 1999 by the MetroStars, when they went 12 games without a win.
In the second half the match got much more physical as the not-so-pretty history between Dallas and Dema Kovalenko reared its ugly head once again.
Ronnie O'Brien -- who had his leg broken in a tackle by Kovalenko two years ago -- nutmegged the United midfielder on the right sideline during the second half only to be brought down with a hard tackle that got a rise out of the crowd.
"They've got a history," said Clarke, "moreso because of one player, rightly or wrongly."
"I thought our boys came out tonight and got stuck in from the first whistle, tried to set the pace. We took our time to get a hold of the ball and get it moving but the second half was a hell of a lot better, but it was very unfortunate to not get something from the game."
Scott Joiner is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.