PIZZA HUT PARK
7:30 pm CT (FSC; WB-56)
Just under a month ago these two teams met in a top-of-the-table clash that was everything it was advertised to be - a stunning comeback by the New England Revolution overturning a 2-1 FC Dallas lead in the final minute and beyond for a 3-2 victory. Since then, both teams have kind of fallen on hard times - FC Dallas comes into the match starting to leak goals at an alarming rate, without a win since June, while the Revolution put an end to a three-game winless streak of their own in a victory against Real Salt Lake at midweek.
REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Adam Garner
MLS Career: 16 games; FC/gm: 28.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 4; pens: 4
Games involving FC Dallas: P2 W1 L0 T1; FC/gm: 22.5; Y/gm: 2.5; R: 0; pens: 0
Games involving Revolution: P4 W0 L0 T4; FC/gm: 33.8; Y/gm: 4.3; R: 2; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: FC DALLAS - OUT: MF Richard Mulrooney (R knee ACL tear) ...NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: GK Kyle Singer (R shoulder sprain); FW Connally Edozien (R MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Ryan Latham (L groin pain); MF Luke Vercollone (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: FW Pat Noonan (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
WARNINGS: DAL: DF Clarence Goodson (19 CP); DF Greg Vanney (20 CP) ... NE: Clint Dempsey (19 CP)
ALL-TIME (24 meetings): FC Dallas 8 wins (1 shootout), 32 goals ... Revolution 15 wins (1 shootout), 47 goals ... 1 draw
AT DALLAS (11 meetings): FC Dallas 3 wins (0 shootout), 13 goals ... Revolution 8 wins (0 shootout), 22 goals ... 0 draws
This the second of the two league meetings between the clubs this season, both coming within the space of less than a month.
The New England Revolution pulled a remarkable victory in the game of the year thus far in MLS, Taylor Twellman completing a hat trick by scoring twice after the clock had ticked over to the 90th minute in a 3-2 victory against FC Dallas at Gillette Stadium on July 16.
The meeting of the two top teams in the league from day one this season didn't disappoint. The Revolution were unbeaten in seven home games, coming into the game off their second loss of the campaign, while FC Dallas had just three losses and were riding a five-game unbeaten run.
FC Dallas took the lead after just seven minutes, as Arturo Alvarez was raced through alone on the right. His initial shot was blocked by Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis, but it came right back at Alvarez, bounced off him and rolled into the goal.
The Revolution pulled level just before the half, a remarkable run across and through the penalty area ending with a clipped cross that Taylor Twellman headed home (44), but FCD went back ahead in stoppage time, Ronnie O'Brien collecting a return pass from Carlos Ruiz before skipping into the area and around Reis, sliding the ball home from a tight angle.
Just when it seemed FC Dallas would survive with the full points, Twellman was credited with the equalizer nearly on the stroke of full time. Shalrie Joseph's hooked a cross into the box and Clint Dempsey headed it toward goal, Twellman getting the final touch almost on the line. Then in stoppage time, Twellman was left unmarked 12 yards from goal. Joseph found him with an early cross whipped in from the right, and he turned to side-foot past Garlick to seal an improbable victory (93+).
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Joe Franchino - James Riley (Andy Dorman 73), Clint Dempsey, Shalrie Joseph, Marshall Leonard (Ryan Latham 58) - Jose Cancela - Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan (Khano Smith 84)
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Scott Garlick - Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi - Simo Valakari - Roberto Mina (Drew Moor 74), Ronnie O'Brien (Abe Thompson 89), Aaron Pitchkolan, Arturo Alvarez (Carey Talley 83) - Carlos Ruiz
A year ago, the Revolution claimed victory in the final two of three meetings between the teams, after Dallas won the opening match.
At the Cotton Bowl on June 12, the then-Burn took a 3-1 victory (Kreis 12, Johnson 74, Nhleko 84 - Dempsey 52). The Revolution then took the next two, both by shutout and one on each ground, winning 3-0 on Aug. 11 at Fair Park (Noonan 3, Twellman 87, Dorman 90), then 2-0 on Oct. 2 in Massachusetts (Twellman 42, Ralston 47)
The Revolution have won seven of the last nine meetings between the teams, dating back to Aug. 4, 2001, Dallas winning the other two.
Dallas did have a four-game winning streak in the series that lasted two seasons, winning both meetings in both 1999 and 2000.
The road team has won five of the last eight meetings between the teams - including all three in the 2003 season.
Coaches record: Colin Clarke v NE: P5 W1 L4 T0 ... Steve Nicol vs. DAL: P8 W6 L2 D0
FC Dallas opened their brand new soccer-specific stadium in terrific fashion, but couldn't on to their good fortune, settling for a 2-2 draw with the MetroStars in the first game ever at Pizza Hut Park last Saturday evening. FC Dallas are now in second place in the Western Conference with 35 points from 20 matches, two behind division-leading San Jose Earthquakes and now just three ahead of third-place Los Angeles Galaxy, though they have games in hand over both teams.
A sellout crowd of 15,000 saw the new ground opened in style by - who else? - Carlos Ruiz. Just as he had in opening The Home Depot Center when he hit for the only goal in that stadium's first game, the Guatemalan international scored the first goal in Pizza Hut Park history in the 31st minute when his glancing header off a Ronnie O'Brien cross from the right flank settled neatly inside the far post.
Ruiz then doubled the FC Dallas lead three minutes later with O'Brien again playing provider, rolling a square pass into the area that Ruiz neatly flicked home with the inside of his right heel.
But Youri Djorkaeff lifted the MetroStars on his world champion back and hit for two goals in seven minutes just after the break. First, FCD 'keeper Jeff Cassar saved an Ante Razov shot but Djorkaeff got in ahead of a defender to stab the rebound under Cassar (47), then in the 53rd minute he saw the 'keeper off his line and let fly with an audacious chip from outside the area that sailed over Cassar's head.
Both teams had their chances over the final half hour, but in the end it was FC Dallas again left to rue a lead lost, as their winless run extended to five games, four in which they've held the lead.
FC Dallas boss Colin Clarke made three changes to the team that lost 3-2 to the MetroStars 10 days before at Giants Stadium. Jeff Cassar made his first start of the season, coming in for All-Star goalkeeper Scott Garlick, while Ramon Nuñez came into central midfield for Aaron Pitchkolan. Eddie Johnson made his first appearance in an FC Dallas uniform since May 22, coming in at a wide attacking role for Roberto Mina.
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Jeff Cassar -Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, David Wagenfuhr - Simo Valakari - Arturo Alvarez (Roberto Mina 78), Ramon Nunez, Ronnie O'Brien, Eddie Johnson (Aaron Pitchkolan 63) - Carlos Ruiz
"It wasn't good, we threw the game away. We have to get better on that side of things. We have to find players who are going to do things better then what we are doing defensively," Clarke said. " ... I think as a team we need to learn how to put teams away and kill them off. We need to be better in our heads. We were 2-0 up, and had a few chances to score more goals and then we had a couple more chances after the score was 2-1. It's a mental thing that we have to get over if we want to get to the next level."
The draw - which felt more like a loss - extended the FC Dallas winless run to five games. The Hoops last won on June 25 against the Colorado Rapids.
"It's the same as every other game we've played in the last month and a half," said Ronnie O'Brien. "It's a disgrace, we can't keep scoring goals and giving up goals. "We're never going to win a championship that way. If we don't pick it up we're going to be crawling into the playoffs which we didn't want to do."
For Ruiz, the landmark goals were the first since May 28 for him in Dallas uniform - a span of 10 league games (though he missed five to international duty and injury).
"I was very happy to score the first goal and we continue to work for a championship. It was an unfortunate result. But we will push forward and take the one point in the standings," he said. " ... I think FC Dallas played well tonight. I scored two goals tonight and Ronnie recorded two assists. However, we need to play much better if we want to win the championship."
The organization in the back was there in the first half with Greg Vanney in the FCD lineup for the first time in a month, but the second half was a different story.
"We have to do a better job," said Vanney. "Guys were breaking through midfield and play as fast as they wanted to play. In the back we were chasing guys in behind, we weren't a good group, a good line tonight. When we get up 2-0 at home, it's a game you have to win."
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The New England Revolution snapped a brief three-game winless streak in style, rolling over Real Salt Lake 4-1 at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night. With the victory the Revolution reclaimed sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points from 21 matches, three ahead of the Chicago Fire with two matches in hand, and now also again own the best overall record in the league.
The Revolution scored twice within the opening 16 minutes, and despite a thunderous answer from Jason Kreis and spurning numerous chances, scored twice over the final quarter-hour to ease to victory.
Clint Dempsey opened the scoring on 11 minutes. Jay Heaps beat Kenny Cutler for pace, turning the corner to hit a bending ball at the near post and Dempsey, knocking down Rusty Pierce in the process, met the ball to smash his header home. Dempsey celebrated by hopping the signage and doing a Revolutionary jig complete with a period-style hat.
Five minutes later, Twellman gave the Revolution a second. It was a curling corner kick off the boot of Jose Cancela that caught the Real defense flat-footed. Jay Heaps rose at the near post with nary a challenge, and his directed header found the open run of Twellman at the far post to smash home from three yards.
Kreis threw the visitors a lifeline in the 31st minute with a blistering 28-yard effort off a free kick. Twellman conceded the kick at the edge of the area with a rash tackle, and Kreis's low blast to the right corner left Reis with no chance.
But Real conceded a third in the 76th minute as Brian Dunseth was the culprit, heading back towards his own goal from another Heaps header, saw the ball crash onto the crossbar before the deflection fell over the line to restore the Revolution's two-goal advantage.
Khano Smith scored a cracking goal in the 90th minute, as a defensive miscue allowed the Bermudan to beat his marker with a solo run before blasting an angled effort from the left past D.J. Countess at the near post.
Revolution boss Steve Nicol made one change to the team that lost 2-1 to the Kansas City Wizards the Saturday before at Gillette Stadium. Jay Heaps returned from suspension, coming on the right of the back three for James Riley.
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Avery John (James Riley 65) - Steve Ralston, Andy Dorman, Shalrie Joseph, Joe Franchino - Jose Cancela (Khano Smith 76) - Taylor Twellman, Clint Dempsey
"We would have preferred to put the game away earlier. We were coasting at two-nil and we stopped doing things that we were doing well. We just had to be on our guard," Nicol said. "As long as we concentrated and kept plugging away, we were confident we would get another goal. Unfortunately, it took us a wee bit longer than we hoped, but nonetheless we got it."
With Pat Noonan still out with an ankle injury, Nicol once again started Clint Dempsey up top with Taylor Twellman. But for the final quarter-hour, he brought on Khano Smith for José Cancela as Dempsey moved back into midfield.
"We've got players in that position, and when we have strength, we're going to use it. We'd prefer Clint (Dempsey) to be coming from the middle of the pack. He's doing a great job for us up front while Pat (Noonan) is injured," Nicol said. "To freshen things up, we wanted to make sure we were solid. With Andy (Dorman) and Shalrie (Joseph), we're solid. Clint can then go from the middle of the pack and get in the box."
With Real defending with a line of five in midfield, Jay Heaps took the opportunity to get forward more from the Revs back three. He had a part in each of the Revolution's first three goals.
"They were sitting back and there was a lot more space. I had time with the ball and runners, like Rallie (Steve Ralston), were making nice runs and you have to hit them," Heaps said. "If we score early, it changes the complexion of the game, because they have to release guys and get caught in tough situations.
It also allowed the Revolution to use the flanks more. "Against Kansas City, we had a lot of crosses but we didn't finish. The first 20-25 minutes, we wanted to get the ball wide, get the ball across and see what Clint and Taylor can finish. Jay did well tonight with the crosses. It was all a team effort attacking-wise," said Shalrie Joseph.
"We wanted to get back to passing the ball," said Nicol. "With Pope and Dunseth at the back, you can't play high balls into them. They want that. We want to use as many different ways of getting the ball up the pitch as possible."