In a critical match that will likely play a major part in deciding home-field advantage in the MLS Cup Playoffs, FC Dallas hit for three goals in an 11-minute burst to close out the first half and defeat the Los Angeles Galaxy 4-1 on Wednesday night at Pizza Hut Park.
Roberto Mina, coming off a two-goal performance Sunday against Real Salt Lake, was in fine form once again as he pushed his season goal total to seven with two first-half goals. Abe Thompson scored the only other true goal of the night as he beat Kevin Hartman in the 91st minute to seal the win for the Hoops.
Two goals were own goals, one for each team -- one by the Galaxy's Troy Roberts in the 34th minute and one by FCD's Bobby Rhine in the 86th minute that provided the Galaxy's lone goal of the night.
The Galaxy nearly got off to a dream start in the seventh minute as Chris Albright found himself open in the box after playing a one-two with Landon Donovan through a crowd, but his shot rattled off the right post and out of play with FCD 'keeper Scott Garlick having no chance.
Early on, the match stayed pretty even as neither team wanted to give up the important first goal of the match. Donovan had his most promising chance of the first half in the 22nd minute as he made a stumbling shot on an oncoming Garlick, who came off his line to make the save.
But in the 34th minute the Hoops were the fortunate recipients of the lead as Arturo Alvarez pressured L.A. defender Roberts. The rookie right back played a rolling ball back to Hartman, but it somehow rolled over his boot and ended up in the net for the own goal.
FCD got a surge of life following the own goal and doubled the lead in the 37th minute. After running down the ball in the corner Mina took on two players at the endline before driving a shot from a tight angle. But it deflected off Pablo Chinchilla, giving a surprised Hartman no chance as he dove the wrong way for a two-goal cushion.
The Hoops finished out the half with another strike in the 45th minute. Bobby Rhine played a nice ball over the top to Ramon Nunez, and he brought the ball into the right side of the box and took a shot which was deflected by Hartman. But it fell right into the path of Mina who easily put it home from inside the six-yard box.
In the second half FCD bunkered down in hopes of preserving the three-goal lead, as coach Colin Clarke made a defensive substitution, bringing on Carey Talley in place of Nunez in the 61st minute. The tactical decision gave the Galaxy the majority of possession in the second half as they tried to break down the Hoops defense.
Donovan and Joseph Ngwenya nearly put L.A. back in the game in the 72nd minute as both took point-blank shots giving the home side a moment of panic in the box, but the ball was cleared from danger.
The Galaxy were gifted a goal of their own in the 86th minute as a Galaxy cross floated across the box where Rhine headed the ball past his own 'keeper at the back post.
But overall it just wasn't L.A.'s night. Throughout the match crosses hit teammates in the back, players lost possession, and of course there was the early own goal.
The crowning blow was delivered a minute into stoppage time when late substitute Abe Thompson put away his team's fourth goal, running onto a perfectly played ball from Ronnie O'Brien before beating one defender then nutmegging Hartman.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Roberto Mina (FC Dallas)
Scott Joiner is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.