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A couple of weeks ago the two clubs were in a dogfight to see which one could win the honor to have their head coach lead the MLS All-Stars in two weeks time. FC Dallas finished ahead in that race - but ironically as the teams meet for the first time this season, it's the Chicago Fire who hold the best overall record. FC Dallas haven't lost in four games and have seven wins in their last nine games in holding a large lead in the Western Conference, while the New England Revolution lost the top spot in the East to the Fire in last week's head-to-head matchup, though the Revolution have three matches in hand.
REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): George Vergara; JAR (opposite): Adam Wienckowski; 4th: Erich Simmons
MLS Career: 32 games; FC/gm: 31.0; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 3; pens: 11
Games involving Revolution: P5 W2 L1 T2; FC/gm: 28.4; Y/gm: 4.6; R: 0; pens: 1
Games involving FC Dallas: P8 W2 L4 T2; FC/gm: 26.9; Y/gm: 2.1; R: 0; pens: 4
INJURY REPORT: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION - OUT: GK Kyle Singer (R shoulder sprain); PROBABLE: FW Taylor Twellman (L hamstring strain) ... FC DALLAS - OUT: MF Richard Mulrooney (R knee ACL tear); DOUBTFUL: FW Eddie Johnson (R toe stress-related injury)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: NE: FW Pat Noonan, MF Clint Dempsey, MF Steve Ralston (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup) ... DAL: DF Greg Vanney (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup)
WARNINGS: DAL: MF Ronnie O'Brien (18 CP)
ALL-TIME (23 meetings): Revolution 14 wins (1 shootout), 44 goals ... FC Dallas 8 wins (1 shootout), 30 goals ... 1 draw
IN FOXBOROUGH (11 meetings): Revolution 6 wins (1 shootout), 22 goals ... FC Dallas 5 wins (1 shootout), 17 goals ... 0 draws
This the first of two meetings between the clubs this season, the only one set for Gillette Stadium. They'll meet again in less than a month, a first trip to Pizza Hut Park for the Revolution on Aug. 13.
A year ago, the Revolution claimed victory in the final two of three meetings between the teams, after Dallas won the opening match.
At the Cotton Bowl on June 12, the then-Burn took a 3-1 victory (Kreis 12, Johnson 74, Nhleko 84 - Dempsey 52). The Revolution then took the next two, both by shutout and one on each ground, winning 3-0 on Aug. 11 at Fair Park (Noonan 3, Twellman 87, Dorman 90), then 2-0 on Oct. 2 in Massachusetts (Twellman 42, Ralston 47)
The Revolution have won seven of the last nine meetings between the teams, dating back to Aug. 4, 2001, Dallas winning the other two.
Dallas did have a four-game winning streak in the series that lasted two seasons, winning both meetings in both 1999 and 2000.
The road team has won five of the last seven meetings between the teams - including all three in the 2003 season. Last year's two victories by teams on their home ground were the first since a New England home win on May 11, 2002.
Coaches record: Steve Nicol vs. DAL: P7 W5 L2 D0 ... Colin Clarke v NE: P4 W1 L3 T0
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The New England Revolution lost for just the second time on the season and fell out of first place in the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Fire claiming a 1-0 victory in their top-of-the-table clash at Soldier Field last Saturday. The Revolution are second in the East with 32 points from 16 matches, three behind the Fire though they have three matches in hand.
The Fire made a statement by taking over the top spot in the Eastern Conference by three points, though the Revolution have three matches in hand. Both teams were missing about half of their first-choice lineups through national team duty and injury.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis stood tall, but was unable to keep out the game's only goal just before the hour. A corner came in from the left and defender C.J. Brown dove to head it back into the mixer. Rookie defender Gonzalo Segares controlled it, skipped around a defender and hammered a drive past the diving Reis and a pair of New England defenders standing on the line. It was an MLS-record 11th consecutive game the Fire had scored the opening goal in a match.
Three minutes later the Fire won a penalty kick as Justin Mapp was tripped up by Revolution defender Marshall Leonard. But Reis went to full stretch to turn aside Lubos Reiter's spot kick, yet New England wasn't able to ever find the equalizer. Fire 'keeper Zach Thornton was called upon to make just one save on the night, tipping a Connolly Edozien header off the bar in the 89th minute.
Revolution boss Steve Nicol made one change to the team that came back to claim a last-gasp 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy the Monday before, as Shalrie Joseph was suspended, causing a tactical re-shuffle. Ryan Latham made his first MLS start, coming in wide on the left as Marshall Leonard moved to the back three and Joe Franchino moved into a holding midfield role.
Here's Nicol's team (3-4-1-2): Matt Reis - Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Marshall Leonard - James Riley, Andy Dorman, Joe Franchino, Ryan Latham (Luke Vercollone 66) - Jose Cancela (Connally Edozien 66) - Taylor Twellman, Khano Smith
"The game we had here early in the season was the complete opposite of what this one was. We were two different teams as well. Both teams had a lot of changes," Nicol said. "They were on the ball more than we were. We can't really have too many complaints. We would have liked to have scored a goal at the end there. But the quality wasn't really there when we needed there. The fluency wasn't there because of all the changes."
While both teams were missing a number of national team performers, the Revolution were without three key pieces of their attack in Pat Noonan, Steve Ralston and Clint Dempsey. "You have to go out there and perform. You have to play when you're called upon. Obviously we didn't step up to the challenge. It's one loss and we've got to put it behind us and move on to the next game," said Joe Franchino.
Ryan Latham was given his first league start, while Luke Vercollone made just his second professional appearance. "I think they were solid. You only get experience by playing. Hopefully the time they had on the field tonight, they'll learn something so the next time they'll play a little bit better," Nicol said.
Coming into the FC Dallas match, the three Revolution players did play together on the Gillette Stadium field - but for the USA, in Tuesday's scoreless draw against Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Dempsey and Noonan started in attack together, while Steve Ralston started wide on the right of midfield.
"I thought Ralston had another good game," said U.S. national team manager Bruce Arena. "Noonan has struggled for us in the past few games. I think he's hampered a little bit by an injury. Dempsey is an unfinished product. This is his second professional season and he doesn't have the experience yet. He needs to be moved along."
The match in Foxborough will feature 11 members of the MLS All-Star team that was selected to face Fulham FC on July 30 at Crew Stadium. The Revolution's five selections were second-most, to six for FC Dallas. Midfielders Dempsey and Shalrie Joseph and goalkeeper Matt Reis were voted as starters, while Taylor Twellman and Pat Noonan are reserves.
Before last weekend's game, the Revolution completed the acquisition of midfielder Gilberto Flores after he was waived by the MetroStars. Signed after the start of last season, he started and saw action in seven games, recording one assist. This season, he played in three games, logging a total of 39 minutes. Prior to coming to MLS, he played with five different Brazilian clubs, including São Paulo FC in 2002.
FC Dallas come off a week off, after clinching All-Star coaching honors for Colin Clarke with a 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes in the final MLS match at the Cotton Bowl on July 2. FC Dallas still lead the Western Conference, now ahead of the second-place Quakes by six points, but the Chicago Fire's victory against the New England Revolution last weekend moved them ahead in the MLS overall table.
FC Dallas played their final home game in the venerable downtown Dallas stadium before moving to Pizza Hut Park for the opening of their new ground on August 6.
With the full three points guaranteeing Clarke would coach the MLS All-Star team, Arturo Alvarez gave the Hoops a dream start, getting onto the end of a pinpoint Bobby Rhine cross and neatly side-footing home from close range after just four minutes.
Yet just two minutes later the Quakes responded, Brian Mullan getting behind the defense as the flag stayed down despite a hint of offside, pulling inside past FCD 'keeper Scott Garlick and driving the ball into the unguarded goal.
The Earthquakes were left a man down after 35 minutes when center back Danny Califf received his second booking of the match, and after the break FC Dallas finally took advantage, Chris Gbandi playing a neat one-two with Alvarez on the left before skipping forward and letting fly with a low drive from the corner of the area that took a deflection or two before settling into the back of the net (57).
Yet the Quakes again responded within just two minutes with the eventual equalizer, Ricardo Clark making a smooth pull-back at the top of the area before turning and hammering a drive past Garlick into the upper right corner of the goal.
"When the red card happened, it changed the game. The guys they had out there are capable of winning matches in this league. They worked hard and were determined. It was a great opportunity for us, but we didn't take advantage of it being up one man," said Clarke.
Clarke made one change to the team that got a pair of late goals in defeating the Colorado Rapids 3-1 the weekend before in Denver. Greg Vanney was away on international duty, meaning Steve Jolley made his first start since May 28 in central defense.
Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Scott Garlick - Drew Moor (Oscar Pareja 46), Clarence Goodson, Steve Jolley, Chris Gbandi - Simo Valakari - Bobby Rhine, Ronnie O'Brien, Aaron Pitchkolan (Ramon Nunez 84), Arturo Alvarez (Abe Thompson 77) - Roberto Mina
"We're disappointed right now. It was a great opportunity, especially when they were down to 10 men. We fell asleep twice with our concentration right after we scored. It hurt us in the box score at the end of the night," said Clarke.
Chris Gbandi has been involved in a dogfight for a starting position at left back with David Wagenfuhr, who had won the post out of preseason until being injured at the end of May. Gbandi has started eight of the last nine league matches, and then got a goal against San Jose.
"It was a great feeling to score in the last game here at the Cotton Bowl. It would have been a lot more special and sweeter for me if we would have won the match," Gbandi said. "My brother and my sister were here tonight so it was definitely good to score in front of them. I need to realize that I am fighting for a spot and I need to play a good game every time I step on the pitch."
FC Dallas dominated the MLS All-Star Game, with six players on the 18-man squad that Clarke will guide against Fulham FC on July 30 at Crew Stadium. Strikers Carlos Ruiz and Eddie Johnson, midfielder Ronnie O'Brien and defender Greg Vanney are starters, while Simo Valakari and Scott Garlick were selected as reserves.
Clarke said he expects Carlos Ruiz to be available for the New England match. Ruiz scored a hat trick in a 4-3 loss to Jamaica for the Guatemalan national team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but the chapines were eliminated in the group stage. "We let ourselves down," Ruiz said. "We're ashamed. It's unfortunate this happened in the manner that it did... We're in the midst of World Cup qualifying and it's really a disgrace that we are playing like this right now."
In 128 games at the Cotton Bowl, the Dallas club ended up with 75 victories, 42 losses and 11 draws - and didn't lose a game there this season.
"There has been a lot of history here built over the past 10 years. We had some really good times here and there are some people that will never forget those times," Clarke said. "However, moving up to our new stadium in Frisco will be better for the team, the fans and the league. Although this place was special to us, we look forward to getting up to Frisco and building a tradition up there too."
FC Dallas survived more giant-killing exploits from the USL Second Division Wilmington Hammerheads (third tier), getting two goals in extra time for a 3-1 victory in their third-round tie in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday at University of Texas-Dallas.
Two years ago, the Hammerheads defeated Dallas 4-1 in a fourth-round match in Wilmington, and after Derek Popovich shot them into an 18th-minute lead Wednesday a repeat was in view. But Abe Thompson equalized on the half-hour, then Carey Talley headed home a Roberto Mina cross (98), before Mina finished off the match with a tremendous long-range effort (112) to send the Hoops through.
Here's Clarke's team: (4-4-2) - Jeff Cassar, Philip Salyer (Bobby Rhine 94), Drew Moor, Alex Yi, David Wagenfuhr, Carey Talley, Aaron Pitchkolan (Roberto Mina 64), Oscar Pareja (Ronnie O'Brien 64), Ty Maurin (Arturo Alvarez 78), Ramon Nunez, Abe Thompson.