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7:30 pm CT (no TV)
Two of the hottest teams in the Western Conference come together in Major League Soccer's swansong at the Cotton Bowl. FC Dallas have five wins in five matches this year at their Fair Park home, the base of the Dallas club for nearly its entire existence. Winners of three in a row and seven of their last eight, they entertain a San Jose Earthquakes that has moved into a tie for second place in the West thanks to three consecutive wins - all at home and all against conference opposition - and a five-game unbeaten run.
REFEREE: Alex Prus. SAR (bench): Fabio Tovar; JAR (opposite): Emiliano Monje; 4th: Kevin Terry
MLS Career: 88 games; FC/gm: 30.8; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 18; pens: 31
Games involving FC Dallas: P15 W7 L6 T2; FC/gm: 31.9; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 4; pens: 4
Games involving Earthquakes: P10 W4 L2 T4; FC/gm: 30.7; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 1; pens: 3
INJURY REPORT: FC DALLAS - OUT: MF Richard Mulrooney (R knee ACL tear); FW Eddie Johnson (R toe stress-related injury); DF Philip Salyer (R knee MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Carlos Ruiz (R ankle sprain) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Craig Waibel (R knee torn ACL/LCL); DF Troy Dayak (L knee torn ACL); FW Brian Ching (R hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: DAL: DF Greg Vanney (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup) ... SJ: MF Brad Davis (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup); MF Dwayne De Rosario (Canada; CONCACAF Gold Cup)
WARNINGS: DAL: DF Clarence Goodson (19 CP)
ALL-TIME (33 meetings): FC Dallas 13 wins (3 shootout), 37 goals ... Earthquakes 18 wins (4 shootout), 58 goals ... 2 draws
IN DALLAS: (16 meetings): FC Dallas 8 wins (1 shootout), 22 goals ...Earthquakes 7 wins (0 shootout), 24 goals ... 1 draw
The Western Conference rivals come together for the second of four meetings this season, their last-ever meeting at the Cotton Bowl. When they next meet on Sept. 3, it will be at the new Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. The final meeting is set for Sept. 24 at Spartan Stadium.
LAST MEETINGThe teams played to a bizarre, injury-hit scoreless draw in their first meeting, May 14 at Spartan Stadium. The home side saw center back Troy Dayak, forward Brian Ching and midfielder Brian Mullan all forced to leave through injury, while FC Dallas had influential midfielder Richard Mulrooney and left back David Wagenfuhr also injured over the course of the match. In training leading up to the match, Quakes fullback Craig Waibel was also lost for the season to injury.
Quality chances were few and far between, but FC Dallas goalkeeper Scott Garlick saw more of the two 'keepers, called upon to make a couple of fine saves in short order midway through the second half.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Quakes 'keeper Pat Onstad. "When Troy [Dayak] and Richard Mulrooney go down, I guess that was just a sign of things to come. Then we lose two more guys; it seemed like there was always someone down on the field. It is unfortunate."
Here's Colin Clarke's team (4-1-3-2): Scott Garlick - Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, David Wagenfuhr (Drew Moor 76) - Simo Valakari - Ronnie O'Brien Richard Mulrooney (Oscar Pareja 34) (Arturo Alvarez 90), Carey Talley - Eddie Johnson, Carlos Ruiz
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team (4-3-1-2): Pat Onstad - Ricardo Clark, Troy Dayak (Ryan Cochrane 11), Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett - Brian Mullan (Ian Russell 63), Danny O'Rourke, Brad Davis - Dwayne De Rosario - Brian Ching (Alejandro Moreno 40), Ronald Cerritos
HISTORYA year ago, the Earthquakes won two of the four meetings - one at each ground - while the Dallas Burn claimed one (also away from home) with the final encounter a draw.
The Earthquakes claimed a 2-1 win in Dallas on May 15 (Johnson 66 - Donovan 13, Ching 45), but in their next meeting, July 7 at Spartan Stadium, Dallas returned the favor with a 2-1 victory (Corrales 10 - Quill 6, Valakari 89)
San Jose then captured a dominant 3-0 victory at home on Aug. 21 (Corrales 5, own goal 24, Ching 52), then with fourth place in the Western Conference and the final berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs on offer on Oct. 16 at the Cotton Bowl, the Earthquakes escaped with the point they needed thanks to a 2-2 draw, sending Dallas home for the winter (Johnson 12, Pareja 62 - Ching 34, Corrales 36).
Before the Dallas victory in the second game of last year's series, the Earthquakes had won the last seven meetings between the teams - the final two in 2003, all four in the 2004 season series and the opening match last season.
The Earthquakes have won 10 of the last 14 meetings between the clubs (with two draws), dating back to May 23, 2001.
The last Dallas home win in the series came on July 13, 2002, three Earthquakes wins and a draw coming since.
Coaches record: Colin Clarke v SJ: P6 W1 L3 T2 ... Dominic Kinnear vs. DAL: P5 W2 L1 D2
FC Dallas won for the third consecutive match and seventh time in eight outings, getting a pair of late goals in a 3-1 victory against the Colorado Rapids last Saturday in Denver. FC Dallas continue to hold the best record in Major League Soccer with 33 points from 15 games, leading the Western Conference by nine points ahead of Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes and the overall table by two points ahead of New England Revolution.
FC Dallas extended their lead atop the West thanks to a pair of late goals that snapped a two-game winning streak for Colorado, and had given the Rapids belief their season was turning around.
Hard work gave FC Dallas a lead on 13 minutes, rookie Aaron Pitchkolan scoring his second goal of the season as he harried a Rapids defender dealing with a bouncing ball and popped the ball over on-rushing Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon from just inside the area (13).
But the Rapids pulled level on the half-hour, Luchi Gonzalez racing in to provide the final touch after a Jeff Cunningham shot off a fine tic-tac-toe sequence hit the insides of both posts before settling right on the line.
Yet FCD claimed the full three points with a late double. First a Ronnie O'Brien cross from the left picked out Bobby Rhine all alone at the back post, and he made no mistake finishing off from close range (85), then rookie Abe Thompson collected a deflected clearance and raced into the box alone before coolly shooting past Cannon for his third goal and second in as many games (88).
FC Dallas boss Colin Clarke made two changes to the team that claimed a late 2-1 victory against Chivas USA the previous Wednesday at the Cotton Bowl, reversing the changes he had made for that game. Chris Gbandi and Ronnie O'Brien came back into the team, replacing David Wagenfuhr at left back and Oscar Pareja in central midfield respectively.
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Scott Garlick - Drew Moor, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, Chris Gbandi - Simo Valakari - Bobby Rhine (David Wagenfuhr 85), Aaron Pitchkolan, Ronnie O'Brien, Arturo Alvarez (Oscar Pareja 76) - Roberto Mina (Abe Thompson 80).
TEAM NEWSColin Clarke has nearly sewn up the coaching honors for the 2005 Sierra Mist All-Star Game. If FC Dallas takes at least one point this weekend - or if the New England Revolution fail to tie if the Hoops lose - then Clarke will lead the team of MLS All-Stars against England's Fulham FC on July 30 at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Rhine's goal was his first of the campaign, and came in his third game after he's moved forward to a wide attacking midfield role with Drew Moor's installation as right back.
"It is stuff we work on in training all the time, just getting numbers in the box. It was a good ball by Ronnie (O'Brien) and we are just getting guys in the area and trying to get on the end of things," Rhine said. "We put pressure on them quite a bit during a stretch there toward the end of the game and we got the goal we deserved."
Once again O'Brien's service led to the key goal of the game and gave him six assists on the season, two off the league lead.
"I think Ronnie (O'Brien) did an incredible job. Ronnie has been, for me, the best player in MLS so far, he has got such an energy level. He covers every blade of grass. (Colorado) had a tough time, as does everybody else, containing him," Clarke said.
Striker Carlos Ruiz has returned to full training and has one more chance to play for FC Dallas before joining the Guatemala national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. But Clarke was non-committal if he would include him in the first team for the Earthquakes match.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes completed a clean sweep of their key three-game homestand against Western Conference opposition, getting a late match-winner to knock off the Colorado Rapids 1-0 at Spartan Stadium on Wednesday night. With the victory the Quakes moved into a tie for second place in the West with the Los Angeles Galaxy, both with 24 points from 15 matches, nine behind pace-setting FC Dallas.
The Earthquakes also extended their club-record home shutout streak to 506 games with the victory, as both 'keepers did their part to try and ensure neither team would find the back of the net on the night.
Earthquakes 'keeper Pat Onstad was credited with four saves on the night, a couple of fine stops over the final half-hour. But he had no answer for a long-range looping blast from Jeff Cunningham in the 10th minute - only to see it come back off the base of his right-hand post. Early in the second half, a Ricardo Clark blast caromed off the woodwork for San Jose.
But two minutes from full time the home side hit home, Brian Mullan and Julian Nash playing a neat one-two on the right before Mullan slipped a through ball to Dwayne De Rosario in the right side of the area. He hammered a drive inside the near post that beat Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon for his second goal of the season.
"We didn't play our best, but we did play well enough to win. We had our chances and Colorado came in and bunkered down basically and were hoping for [Jeff] Cunningham to do something," midfielder Mark Chung said. "It is hard to play against teams that do that, but we won and I think we had the majority of the play and the majority of the chances and we deserved to win."
Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that knocked off the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 the previous Saturday at Spartan Stadium. Brad Davis was away on national team duty with the USA in advance of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and Brian Mullan made his first appearance in the team in eight matches, coming in wide on the right of midfield as Mark Chung switched flanks.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-3-1-2): Pat Onstad - Kelly Gray, Danny Califf, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett - Brian Mullan, Ricardo Clark, Mark Chung - Dwayne De Rosario - Ronald Cerritos, Alejandro Moreno (Julian Nash 83)
"We left it late, but we got out of here with a positive result. I give full credit to the guys for continuing to go forward all the way to the end. They never stopped playing positive soccer and trying to knock the ball around. Winning three games in a row is great for the team," Kinnear said.
TEAM NEWSWith the shutout of the Rapids, San Jose's home scoreless streak is up to a club-record 506 minutes. The Earthquakes began the season by conceding at least two goals in each of the first five matches. Since that time, San Jose has allowed two goals only once, in a 2-1 loss at Los Angeles on May 21. Much of the team's success coincides with the return to health of center back Danny Califf, who missed the first eight matches of the season with an injured knee.
"I don't know really that there was a turning point," said goalkeeper Pat Onstad, who recorded his seventh shutout of the season. "I think Danny Califf has settled the back four, but most importantly, the guys have become comfortable with one another. It just took a little while to get going."
San Jose's depth will once again be tested in upcoming games. On Thursday it was announced forward Brian Ching is going to be out several weeks with a recurrence of the hamstring injury he initially suffered May 25 against FC Dallas. Ching reinjured his hamstring in a reserve league match last Sunday and is undergoing surgery on Thursday.
Brad Davis is already gone with the U.S. national team in preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and De Rosario headed out after Wednesday's game to join Canada. In addition, rookie James Twellman saw his season end with a knee injury suffering during the week in training.
Mullan last played on May 14, when he was among the slew of injuries in the first meeting with FC Dallas. He managed to play the entire match in his first game back.
"You could tell he hasn't played for a while, but all in all it was a good night for him," said Kinnear. "I credit him for getting that ball from Danny Califf, and his first thought is to go forward. And that's in the 88th minute for a guy that hasn't played in six weeks. It was a total shot in the arm and shows the guy's character." Said Mullan: "I was definitely winded, but I actually felt worse in the first half than I did in the second," said Mullan. "We weren't winning - you've got to go until the end."
Kinnear was frustrated by the Rapids tactics, and celebrated De Rosario's goal along with his team when they finally broke through. "First of all, it was a great effort by Danny Califf to get the ball to Brian Mullan. I have to give Brian credit for going forward late in the game coming off a long layoff. He drove hard from the midfield and Julian (Nash) had a great touch and Dwayne had a great finish," Kinnear said. "I thought all game that if a goal came it would come out of the midfield."