Cunningham double helps Dallas blank RSL

FC Dallas got two goals from Jeff Cunningham and two assists from Dave van den Bergh for a 3-0 win against Real Salt Lake at Pizza Hut Park. David Ferreira added a goal and an assist for FCD, now 5-1-0 in their last six matches at home and 7-0-0 all-time at home against RSL.

Cunningham's first goal put FCD ahead after just five minutes. FCD's Dax McCarty won possession from RSL's Will Johnson in the midfield. McCarty then fed Ferreira on the right flank, and the Colombian international sent a cross toward the far post that was deflected by Salt Lake's Nat Borchers.

Ferreira's ball fell to the feet of van den Bergh, who tapped the ball toward Cunningham and with his back to goal, the veteran spun and fired a shot into the back of the net. After the tally, the FCD forward rushed over and planted a kiss on the lens of a TV camera near goal.

RSL nearly drew level just one minute after FCD's tally. Pablo Campos hit a blast but FCD goalkeeper Dario Sala was there to deflect the ball over the endline.

Van den Bergh then set up FCD's second in the 10th minute. After gaining possession on the left side, the Dutchman then struck a perfect through ball into Ferreira's path in the left side of the area, just past Borchers, and the Colombian midfielder knocked it into the right side of the net for his seventh goal of 2009, triggering a spirited celebration between himself and Cunningham.

With his two assists, van den Bergh now has 10 for the season, not only the FCD team lead but also a new career-high for the veteran midfielder.

FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman made several changes to his first 11 from last weekend's 3-2 loss at Kansas City. Ugo Ihemelu, who started at right back against the Wizards, moved to a more central role with Heath Pearce, who got his first MLS start, coming in on the right.

In the midfield, Daniel Hernandez also got his first start since joining FCD several weeks ago as he replaced Marvin Chavez in the first 11. Absent from the 18-man gameday roster for the home side was defender/midfielder Pablo Ricchetti.

RSL head coach Jason Kreis also made some changes to his first 11 from one week ago. In the back, Tony Beltran replaced Jamison Olave. Robbie Findley and Javier Morales re-entered the midfield while up top, Yura Movsisyan was in for Fabian Espindola.

Sala wore the captain's armband in Ricchetti's place and with the now former captain likely on the sidelines for the balance of 2009, it looks like the Argentinean 'keeper will be captain at least for the rest of this year.

In the 29th minute, FCD left back Jair Benitez nearly booted home his first MLS goal. The speedy defender from Colombia struck a great full volley with his left foot from the left side but his blast hit the far post and bounced away from danger.

About three minutes before the break, Campos had another prime opportunity to score his fifth goal of the year but once again, Sala was there to deny. Campos had a point-blank chance to convert but shot it right at the FCD 'keeper and he made the save, one of five he logged in the opening 45 minutes.

Both clubs logged eight shots in the first half but RSL had the edge with five efforts on frame compared to three by FCD, two of which found the back of the net. The first half was a quiet one as the teams were whistled for just a total of 10 fouls and no cards were issued for either side.

Kreis made all three of his substitutions by the 61st minute with Andy Williams entering for Morales, Clint Mathis coming on for Will Johnson and Espindola on for Campos.

Findley made a quick jaunt up the right flank in the 64th and actually had a good angle to draw one back for the visitors, but his shot went wide right, just missing the far corner of the net by mere inches.

In the 72nd, Espindola also managed to find some space in FCD's end. However, his shot from the left side was stopped by Sala and there were no RSL players around to put away the resulting rebound.

Hyndman's first sub came in the 74th when Chavez came on for Atiba Harris, who spent several seasons with RSL.

About three minutes later, the visitors had another golden opportunity to draw one back when they were awarded a free kick just outside the six-yard box following a sequence where Sala touched the ball after a defensive pass back.

Williams stepped up to take the free kick and tapped the ball over to Movsisyan, who saw his blast deflected over the endline by Chavez. RSL was unable to muster any further chances off the free kick that soon followed.

Hyndman's final two changes came with about five minutes left. In the 84th, Andre Rocha entered for Hernandez while one minute later, Eric Avila came on for van den Bergh.

Cunningham then sealed the game with his second goal, from about 25 yards out in the 87th minute. After Ferreira got him the ball, the veteran scorer hit a rocket from the top of the RSL arc, a shot which rattled off the left post and into the back of the net.

The goal tied Cunningham with Colorado's Conor Casey for the league lead in scoring with 15 goals. The FCD striker now has four multiple-goal games this season and is just three away from equaling the club record of 18 goals in a season, a mark which is jointly held by Kreis and Kenny Cooper. It was the 119th of his league career, second all-time behind D.C. United's Jaime Moreno.

RSL will have 18 days off until their next match, Oct. 14 against New York at Rio Tinto Stadium. FCD's break won't be quite as long as they play host to New England on Wednesday night at the Cotton Bowl, the first game of a doubleheader that will feature the national teams from Colombia and Mexico in the nightcap.

Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com.

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