The Chicago Fire fell short in their 2005 MLS season opener on Saturday night, seeing a player sent off in the second half as they lost 2-1 to FC Dallas at the Cotton Bowl.
FC Dallas took a second-minute lead through Richard Mulrooney and then doubled it shortly after the start of the second half when Eddie Johnson headed home. Leonard Griffin was shown the red card in the 51st minute to leave Chicago a man down and while Kelly Gray cut the lead in half, it wasn't enough for the Fire.
The scoring began through a nice FC Dallas passing sequence, as Ronnie O'Brien ran up the left flank and chipped the ball onto the head of newly-signed Carlos Ruiz. The Guatemalan international flicked the ball onto an unmarked Mulrooney and he hammered a first-time half-volley to the back of the net from outside the penalty area.
Nate Jaqua missed a golden opportunity in the 16th minute as a free kick from Chris Armas found him unmarked in the center of the box. But his header went straight into the arms of FC Dallas 'keeper Scott Garlick.
The 21st minute produced the match's first yellow card as Griffin committed a reckless foul -- which would come back to haunt the visitors.
Then in the 43rd minute Jaqua looked to redeem himself as he again got free for a header, but this time it fell short and Garlick was able to get his left hand on the ball to make the save.
Chicago kept the pressure on Dallas as they created more chances over the half, but still went into the break down by the solitary goal.
That all changed shortly after the start of the second half, when FC Dallas picked up where they left off. The ball went out to Carey Talley on the left flank and he placed a beautiful cross into the box where a diving header from Johnson beat Thornton and bounded in off the inside of the post to make the score 2-0.
Four minutes later Griffin was given his marching orders for a second yellow card on a tackle in midfield and the Fire were left a man down.
Johnson missed a golden opportunity to put the game away in the 67th minute as he was completely unmarked but sent his shot sailing over Thornton's head.
The Fire got back into the game in the 72nd minute when Jesse Marsch hit a point-blank shot that Garlick stopped, but the ball rebounded to Kelly Gray and he headed the ball into the open net to close the gap.
But the Fire could get no closer, and opened the new campaign on a sour note. Chicago was missing two key players, as Tony Sanneh and Samuel Caballero were unable to participate in the match.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Richard Mulrooney (FC Dallas)
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Chicago Fire (0-1-0) vs. FC Dallas (1-0-0)
April 2, 2005 -- Cotton Bowl
DAL -- Richard Mulrooney 1 (Carlos Ruiz 1, Ronnie O'Brien 1) 2
DAL -- Eddie Johnson 1 (Carey Talley 1) 47
CHI -- Kelly Gray 1 (unassisted) 73
Chicago Fire -- Zach Thornton, Kelly Gray, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Leonard Griffin, Justin Mapp, Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch (Chad Barrett 80), Mario Ivan Guerrero, Andy Herron (Chris Rolfe 66), Nate Jaqua.
Substitutes Not Used: Scott Buete, Logan Pause, Matt Pickens.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Nate Jaqua 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Nate Jaqua 4); FOULS: 11 (3 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 4 (Andy Herron 2, Nate Jaqua 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Justin Mapp 4); SAVES: 4 (Zach Thornton 4)
FC Dallas -- Scott Garlick, Philip Salyer, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, David Wagenfuhr, Richard Mulrooney, Carey Talley, Simo Valakari, Eddie Johnson, Carlos Ruiz (Oscar Pareja 83), Ronnie O'Brien.
Substitutes Not Used: Arturo Alvarez, Jeff Cassar, Chris Gbandi, Cornell Glen, Drew Moor, Ramon Nunez, Aaron Pitchkolan, Bobby Rhine.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Richard Mulrooney 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (6 tied with 1); FOULS: 25 (Simo Valakari 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (Eddie Johnson 3); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Richard Mulrooney 1); SAVES: 5 (Scott Garlick 5)
CHI -- Leonard Griffin (caution; Reckless Foul) 21
CHI -- Leonard Griffin (caution; Tackle from Behind) 51
CHI -- Leonard Griffin (ejection; Second Caution) 51
DAL -- Carey Talley (caution; Reckless Foul) 60
DAL -- Richard Mulrooney (caution; Reckless Foul) 80
DAL -- Scott Garlick (caution; Delaying a Restart) 90
Referee: Ricardo Valenzuela
Referee's Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry; Fabio Tovar
4th Official: Michael Brow
Time of Game: 1:50
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.