Reigning MLS Honda Player of the Week Nate Jaqua scored his fourth goal in two matches, and Lubos Reiter added his first-ever MLS tally, as the Chicago Fire handed FC Dallas just their second loss of the season while winning for the fourth time in five games with a 2-0 victory on Sunday.
The Fire had struggled at home early this season, but a certain Soldier Field style and finishing power -- hallmarks during the team's eight-year history -- have emerged, buoyed by three consecutive home victories.
Despite the victory, for the time being FC Dallas will retain the Brimstone Cup, the two clubs splitting victories in their league meetings this season. The trophy was created in 2001 by fans of both teams and FC Dallas will hold it for the fourth consecutive year unless the teams meet in the U.S. Open Cup or MLS Cup playoffs, which both serve as tiebreakers to any tie in the regular season Brimstone Cup standings.
While neither half was played with the fervor that once characterized the rivalry, each team had a glorious early chance. A fifth-minute header from Jaqua forced a full extension from FC Dallas 'keeper Scott Garlick, and then Ronnie O'Brien's 40-yard chip shot one minute later caromed off the post, leaving a relieved Zach Thornton as the Chicago 'keeper was standing in no man's land and badly beaten.
FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke suffered a first half injury blow when Carlos Ruiz injured his right ankle in the 10th minute and had to be replaced by Abe Thompson.
Ruiz will be reevaluated upon his return to Dallas and joins strike partner Eddie Johnson (toe) and Richard Mulrooney (ACL) in the treatment room. Clarke suddenly finds himself with a lack of firepower up front as 14 of his team's 21 goals have come from those three first teamers.
Jaqua put the Fire ahead 1-0 in the 20th minute. He first-timed a floating ball six yards from goal while holding off a defender past the outstretched arms of Garlick and into the left corner.
Justin Mapp set up Jaqua's goal by first escaping a double-team with a nifty pullback and spin before seeing his cross hit Dallas defender Clarence Goodson and balloon into the air.
Slovakian international Reiter, who last week became the league's first-ever active player to play in a UEFA region World Cup qualifying contest, added stoppage time insurance to the Fire's stronghold. Thiago set Ivan Guerrero free down the left flank, and Reiter one-timed the Honduran's rolling cross past Garlick, who was rooted to his line.
Both teams were missing key first team players Sunday. The Fire was without Chris Armas (ankle), C.J. Brown (hamstring) and Andy Herron (hamstring), while FC Dallas missed Mulrooney and Johnson.
The teams were also without four young players, who were representing their respective countries in Holland for the FIFA World Youth Championships. Opportunistic Fire rookie Chad Barrett -- the goal-scorer in the USA's 1-0 victory against Argentina -- is in Holland along with Fire teammates Will John (U.S. U-20 national team) and Will Johnson (Canada U-20 national team), while FC Dallas midfielder Ramon Nunez is representing Honduras.
Sunday's match began a busy spell for Dave Sarachan's team, which has two more matches in the next six days. The Fire travels to the nation's capital for a match against D.C. United on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET before completing their grueling stretch against Kansas City on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT at Soldier Field.
FC Dallas, who remain in the Western Conference's pole position, play host to the second-place Los Angeles Galaxy next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Nate Jaqua (Chicago Fire)
Ivaldo Basso is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
FC Dallas (7-2-3) vs. Chicago Fire (7-5-1)
June 12, 2005 -- Soldier Field
CHI -- Nate Jaqua 5 (Justin Mapp 2) 20
CHI -- Lubos Reiter 1 (Ivan Guerrero 2, Thiago 5) 91+
FC Dallas -- Scott Garlick, Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, Chris Gbandi (Ty Maurin 85), Ronnie O'Brien, Aaron Pitchkolan (Drew Moor 77), Simo Valakari, Arturo Alvarez, Roberto Mina, Carlos Ruiz (Abe Thompson 10).
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Cassar, Steve Jolley.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (6 tied with 1); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Greg Vanney 1); FOULS: 33 (Ronnie O'Brien 7); OFFSIDES: 4 (Abe Thompson 3); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Arturo Alvarez 4, Ronnie O'Brien 4); SAVES: 5 (Scott Garlick 5)
Chicago Fire -- Zach Thornton, Logan Pause, Samuel Caballero, Gonzalo Segares, Thiago (Jim Curtin 89), Justin Mapp (Scott Buete 81), Jesse Marsch, Tony Sanneh, Ivan Guerrero, Nate Jaqua, Chris Rolfe (Lubos Reiter 68).
Substitutes Not Used: Kelly Gray, Leonard Griffin, David Mahoney, Jared Montz, Jack Stewart, John Thorrington.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Nate Jaqua 4, Lubos Reiter 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Nate Jaqua 2); FOULS: 11 (Thiago 3); OFFSIDES: 5 (Justin Mapp 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Thiago 2); SAVES: 1 (Zach Thornton 1)
CHI -- Justin Mapp (caution; Diving, Exaggeration) 13
DAL -- Ronnie O'Brien (caution; Reckless Foul) 47+
CHI -- Jesse Marsch (caution; Game Disrepute) 48+
DAL -- Simo Valakari (caution; Reckless Foul) 76
DAL -- Greg Vanney (caution; Professional Foul) 90
Referee: Ben Jones
Referee's Assistants: -Craig Lowry; George Gansner
4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja
Time of Game: 1:53
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.