The new beginning for FC Dallas got off to the best possible start in their 2005 season opener as new signings Carlos Ruiz and Richard Mulrooney combined for the game's first goal in a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Fire at the Cotton Bowl.
Eddie Johnson added the second goal for FC Dallas against a Fire side that played nearly the entire second half with 10 men after defender Leonard Griffin was sent off for two yellow cards.
Mere seconds after the game kicked off, Mulrooney put home the first goal. Ronnie O'Brien began the play with a cross from the left wing that Ruiz simply backheaded down to Mulrooney. Mulrooney struck the ball first-time from outside the penalty area, beating the outstretched Zach Thornton inside the lower left-hand post.
Showing the early stage of the season, neither side was able to get control of the match until Chicago's Nate Jaqua nearly tied the game before halftime. A floating Ivan Guerrero pass to the back post found Jaqua and headed well on goal, only to be blocked by the oncoming FC Dallas 'keeper Scott Garlick.
Just two minutes later Jaqua drilled a shot from outside the box that forced a diving save from Garlick and gave his team a positive to take into the locker room at the halftime break.
That optimism was crushed to start the second half as Johnson sent a nice header off the inside of the post after receiving a nice cross from Carey Talley to give his team the 2-0 lead in the 46th minute.
If it seemed things couldn't get worse for Chicago, they did in the 51st minute as Griffin picked up his second yellow card following a tough tackle on Ruiz.
Play opened up following the red card as Chicago shifted their formation, leaving just three defenders to cope with Ruiz and Johnson.
FC Dallas became complacent as the half wore on, allowing Jesse Marsch a point-blank shot on Garlick -- who managed to push it away -- only for the rebound to be headed home by Kelly Gray to give the Fire a glimmer of hope in the 72nd minute.
Chicago second-half substitute Chad Barrett then caused some trouble for the Dallas defense late in the match. His combination of toughness and fresh legs kept things interesting in the final 10 minutes of play as he nearly connected on several chances as time wound down.
On one sequence in the 82nd minute, Barrett beat two Dallas defenders and made a dangerous cross to Jaqua who couldn't get on the end of the pass.
Overall it was a good night for newcomers as FC Dallas's other big signing Greg Vanney kept his young defenders organized. Ruiz kept the Chicago defense terrorized and Mulrooney not only scored on his debut but was also a force alongside Simo Valakari in midfield.
David Wagenfuhr also made his first MLS start at left back and never looked out of place, even pushing forward in support of the forwards at times.
Dallas heads to Colorado next Saturday to face the Colroado Rapids at Invesco Field at Mile High (9 p.m. ET).
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Richard Mulrooney (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.
Chicago Fire (0-1-0) vs. FC Dallas (1-0-0)
April 2, 2005 -- Cotton Bowl
DAL -- Richard Mulrooney 1 (Carlos Ruiz 1, Ronnie O'Brien 1) 2
DAL -- Eddie Johnson 1 (Carey Talley 1) 47
CHI -- Kelly Gray 1 (unassisted) 73
Chicago Fire -- Zach Thornton, Kelly Gray, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Leonard Griffin, Justin Mapp, Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch (Chad Barrett 80), Mario Ivan Guerrero, Andy Herron (Chris Rolfe 66), Nate Jaqua.
Substitutes Not Used: Scott Buete, Logan Pause, Matt Pickens.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Nate Jaqua 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Nate Jaqua 4); FOULS: 11 (3 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 4 (Andy Herron 2, Nate Jaqua 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Justin Mapp 4); SAVES: 4 (Zach Thornton 4)
FC Dallas -- Scott Garlick, Philip Salyer, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, David Wagenfuhr, Richard Mulrooney, Carey Talley, Simo Valakari, Eddie Johnson, Carlos Ruiz (Oscar Pareja 83), Ronnie O'Brien.
Substitutes Not Used: Arturo Alvarez, Jeff Cassar, Chris Gbandi, Cornell Glen, Drew Moor, Ramon Nunez, Aaron Pitchkolan, Bobby Rhine.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Richard Mulrooney 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (6 tied with 1); FOULS: 25 (Simo Valakari 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (Eddie Johnson 3); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Richard Mulrooney 1); SAVES: 5 (Scott Garlick 5)
CHI -- Leonard Griffin (caution; Reckless Foul) 21
CHI -- Leonard Griffin (caution; Tackle from Behind) 51
CHI -- Leonard Griffin (ejection; Second Caution) 51
DAL -- Carey Talley (caution; Reckless Foul) 60
DAL -- Richard Mulrooney (caution; Reckless Foul) 80
DAL -- Scott Garlick (caution; Delaying a Restart) 90
Referee: Ricardo Valenzuela
Referee's Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry; Fabio Tovar
4th Official: Michael Brow
Time of Game: 1:50
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.