FC Dallas dominated from the start as Real Salt Lake suffered through the toughest night of their early history, the home side claiming a 3-0 victory at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday night.
The home side took the lead after just four minutes when Richard Mulrooney sent a direct kick past RSL 'keeper D.J. Countess, then in the 29th minute Dallas doubled the lead as U.S. international striker Eddie Johnson blasted a low left-footed drive home. The final goal came midway through the second half after Carlos Ruiz was fouled in the area and took his own penalty. Real were reduced to 10 men in the 72nd minute when Eddie Pope was sent off.
It didn't take FC Dallas long to draw first blood. Ruiz was fouled at the top of the box and Mulrooney whipped the direct kick just to the left of the goal inside the near post and over the wall, leaving a diving Countess no chance.
Real had a good chance to pull level in the 22nd minute when Clint Mathis stole the pass from Johnson and ran into space before slotting a through ball to Jason Kreis on the right side. Kreis returned the favor to Mathis, but half-volleyed his right-footed shot just high.
FC Dallas kept the pressure up in the 25th minute as Ruiz fired a blazing shot that ricocheted off the lower right post. The rebound came to Carey Talley, but Countess quickly reacted to get back on his feet to stand up Talley and parry his shot.
But the home side was always dangerous on the night. Johnson used a quick counter in the 29th minute to find Ronnie O'Brien open, but the Irishman blasted a right-footer wide. Then after Johnson's quickness created havoc in the RSL defense and won a free kick, Mulrooney's cross found Johnson but his header was wide left.
The second goal finally came in the 35th minute when a quick break out of the back was started by Ruiz, who found Mulrooney and he passed to Johnson in the box. The young striker cut across the heart of the area before blasting a shot in the lower left corner past the diving 'keeper.
Real had a good opportunity to open the second half as Kreis took a right-footed shot that tested Dallas 'keeper Scott Garlick, but the FCD 'keeper was able tip the ball out of danger.
Mulrooney dropped a pass over the Real defense and left Johnson one-on-one with Pope in the 47th minute. Johnson left Pope behind with a nifty backheel and blasted a shot -- but it only peeled paint off the crossbar.
Dallas then finished off the game in the 63rd minute when Ruiz was fouled in the area and the referee wasted no time as he pointed to the spot. Ruiz rewarded himself with a shot to the right corner after a hesitation, beating Countess to make the lead 3-0.
Pope was ejected in the 73rd minute on a tackle from behind on Johnson in the restraining arc directly out from goal. O'Brien took the direct kick and hooked it around the wall expertly, but Countess was able to make the diving save.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Carlos Ruiz (FC Dallas)
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Real Salt Lake (1-2-1) vs. FC Dallas (3-0-1)
April 23, 2005 -- Cotton Bowl
DAL -- Richard Mulrooney 2 (unassisted) 4
DAL -- Eddie Johnson 3 (Richard Mulrooney 1, Carlos Ruiz 2) 35
DAL -- Carlos Ruiz 2 (penalty kick) 63
Real Salt Lake -- D.J. Countess, Rusty Pierce, Brian Dunseth, Eddie Pope, Marlon Rojas, Chris Brown (Leighton O'Brien 71), Leslie Fitzpatrick, Clint Mathis, Luke Kreamalmeyer (Evan Whitfield 46), Jason Kreis, Dipsy Selolwane (Nelson Akwari 82).
Substitutes Not Used: Jordan Cila, Jay Nolly.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Clint Mathis 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Jason Kreis 1, Evan Whitfield 1); FOULS: 20 (Jason Kreis 4, Rusty Pierce 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Clint Mathis 4); SAVES: 5 (D.J. Countess 4)
FC Dallas -- Scott Garlick, Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson (Drew Moor 84), Greg Vanney, David Wagenfuhr, Richard Mulrooney, Simo Valakari (Ramon Nunez 68), Carey Talley (Ty Maurin 85), Eddie Johnson, Carlos Ruiz, Ronnie O'Brien.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeff Cassar, Chris Gbandi, Steve Jolley, Oscar Pareja, Philip Salyer, Abe Thompson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 19 (Ronnie O'Brien 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Ronnie O'Brien 2, Carey Talley 2); FOULS: 25 (Simo Valakari 8); OFFSIDES: 2 (Eddie Johnson 1, Carlos Ruiz 1); CORNER KICKS: 9 (Richard Mulrooney 6); SAVES: 2 (Scott Garlick 2)
DAL -- Simo Valakari (caution; Persistent Infringement) 55
RSL -- Eddie Pope (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 73
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants: George Vergara; Emiliano Monje
4th Official: Ben Jones
Time of Game: 1:54
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.