FC Dallas continued their winning ways with a 2-0 victory against a misfiring D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Saturday night, as the visitors gave United a taste of their own counterattacking medicine while getting second-half goals seven minutes apart from Carlos Ruiz.
After the break, Ruiz scored what could already be a top contender for Goal of the Year honors, ripping a full bicycle kick home from the penalty area. He later scored from the penalty spot after he was brought down from behind in the area, the two goals giving him the MLS lead in scoring.
Considering their swashbuckling reputations, D.C. and Dallas got off to a strangely cagy start, with few real chances in the early going. The home side controlled the bulk of possession, but Dallas' commitment to pressuring the ball, led by a seemingly tireless Ronnie O'Brien, kept the Black-and-Red from settling into their normal rhythm.
In the 17th minute, a United foul gave the Hoops a free kick about 30 yards out, and D.C. netminder Nick Rimando braced himself as the menacing combo of Ruiz and O'Brien stood over the ball. Ruiz strode forward to slap a well-hit, curling shot, but it spun wide of Rimando's left post.
After a rare Kovalenko turnover in the Dallas half, O'Brien led his team on the counterattack, but the D.C. back line stalled long enough for help to arrive and Roberto Mina could only shoot high from distance after being teed up by Ruiz.
In the 29th minute, Brian Carroll switched play with a searching ball to Eskandarian on the left flank, and the third-year striker cut past Rhine to race into the Dallas box. But O'Brien made yet another lung-bursting run to cover his defense and knock the ball out of play.
Trying to create something before the halftime whistle, United hurriedly pushed forward. Christian Gomez held up play and looked for an opening just outside the Dallas box before alertly swinging the ball over to Freddy Adu as he raced down the right channel. The youngster danced his way around Chris Gbandi but his final touch was disappointing, lifting the ball well high when he might have done better to cross.
The second stanza began just as cautiously as the first, but then a sublime moment from Ruiz brought the match to life in the 49th minute. Mina and O'Brien combined on the right side of the United box, allowing the Ecuadorean space to chip across to Ruiz at the far post, who had slipped away from Namoff but was facing his own goal.
This proved to be no problem for the former Galaxy hitman, as he swiveled to his left and smacked an overhead kick past a flatfooted Rimando, stunning the crowd and breaking the scoreless deadlock.
United was now firmly planted on the back foot, and their defense was exposed again in the 55th minute. Mina lifted a header over Boswell and Ruiz raced onto the ball as Rimando advanced off his line.
The Guatemalan chipped past the D.C. 'keeper and prepared to finish into the empty net, only to be yanked down by a backtracking Namoff. Referee Ricardo Valenzuela quickly pointed to the spot, where moments later Ruiz calmly placed his kick low and to the right past Rimando.
United finally tested Garlick with a shot on goal in the 67th minute when Carroll squared for Ben Olsen, who stepped up and hit a dipping shot, but it lacked accuracy and hardly troubled his former teammate.
D.C.'s dangerous South Americans combined in the 70th minute as Jaime Moreno played in Gomez at the top of the box, then continued forward and received the Argentinean's chip beautifully, thigh-trapping it down to his right foot and banging a shot off the near post.
Carroll's workmanlike pressuring paid off in the 85th minute, when he intercepted Gbandi's pass on the Dallas left and raced into the penalty box before slipping the ball into Eskandarian's path. The D.C. striker's shot was partially blocked but still goalbound, forcing Garlick to make a sprawling save.
O'Brien was the key to yet another Dallas chance just seconds from full time, sprinting down the left flank and centering for a wide-open Abe Thompson, a second-half sub for Ruiz. The former University of Maryland standout looked sure of scoring, but his chip over Rimando was a touch too high, skipping off the top of the crossbar.
United's frustrating night was epitomized by their last real chance of the night. Gomez spotted Eskandarian's slashing run and found him with a great through ball, which the striker quickly ripped towards the far post. Goodson redirected the ball directly at his own net but it ricocheted off Garlick's shin and dropped perfectly for Dema Kovalenko, but he sidefooted it high over the top with the goal at his mercy.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Carlos Ruiz (FC Dallas)
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
FC Dallas (6-1-3) vs. D.C. United (3-4-2)
May 28, 2005 -- RFK Stadium
DAL -- Carlos Ruiz 6 (Roberto Mina 1) 49
DAL -- Carlos Ruiz 7 (penalty kick) 56
FC Dallas -- Scott Garlick, Clarence Goodson, Bobby Rhine, Chris Gbandi, Steve Jolley, Ronnie O'Brien, Arturo Alvarez (David Wagenfuhr 73), Simo Valakari, Aaron Pitchkolan, Roberto Mina (Drew Moor 64), Carlos Ruiz (Abe Thompson 83).
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Cassar, Ramon Nunez.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Carlos Ruiz 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Carlos Ruiz 2); FOULS: 24 (Arturo Alvarez 9); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 1 (Arturo Alvarez 1); SAVES: 3 (Scott Garlick 3)
D.C. United -- Nick Rimando, Bryan Namoff, Bobby Boswell, Brandon Prideaux, Ben Olsen (Santino Quaranta 81), Brian Carroll, Christian Gomez, Freddy Adu, Dema Kovalenko, Alecko Eskandarian, Jaime Moreno.
Substitutes Not Used: Nana Kuffour, Shawn Kuykendall, Tim Merritt, Troy Perkins, David Stokes, Jason Thompson, Jamil Walker, John Wilson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (3 tied with 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Alecko Eskandarian 2); FOULS: 18 (4 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 5 (Dema Kovalenko 5); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Christian Gomez 2); SAVES: 2 (Nick Rimando 2)
DC -- Ben Olsen (caution; Pushing, Holding) 14
DAL -- Clarence Goodson (caution; Tackle from Behind) 26
DAL -- Arturo Alvarez (caution; Tackle from Behind) 38
DC -- Bobby Boswell (caution; Reckless Foul) 40
Referee: Ricardo Valenzuela
Referee's Assistants: -Thomas Supple; Adam Wienckowski
4th Official: Roni Canales
Time of Game: 1:56
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.