Simo Valakari

Hoops run halted by hurting Crew

FC Dallas never really got going Saturday night at Pizza Hut Park, seeing their four-game unbeaten streak come to an end and falling out of the top spot in the MLS overall table after a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew.

Late-game substitute Leonard Bisaku struck first for the Crew in the 75th minute, with Ritchie Kotschau adding the game winner in the 89th minute. Carlos Ruiz struck the back of the net in the 91st minute but it was too little too late for Dallas.

The Hoops came out flat, possibly taking the Crew too lightly after their 5-1 loss to D.C. United on Wednesday night.

FC Dallas only managed two shots in the first half as Columbus controlled possession and created many chances through Jacob Thomas and Jason Garey. Jose Retiz was solid in midfield for the Crew, sending nice through balls to Eddie Gaven and Garey.

The first and most dangerous chance for the Hoops in the first half came early in the third minute as Greg Vanney lined up a free kick from 20 yards out that rattled the crossbar but was cleared out.

A few minutes later, in the eighth minute, Retiz sent in a nice free kick from the right sideline that found Marcos Gonzalez in the box, but his flick-on header went wide left of the goal.

Columbus took the physical approach to guarding the formidable tandem of Ruiz and Kenny Cooper, with center back Chad Marshall in particular making his presence known.

Garey -- the Crew's top pick in this year's SuperDraft -- showed his skill in the 18th minute, juggling the ball in the box before flicking it over his head toward Jacob Thomas, but FCD 'keeper Dario Sala was able to make the save before Thomas got to it.

Columbus continued their early dominance to the halftime whistle, outshooting the Hoops 9-2 in the first half.

FC Dallas got on the right track in the second half with Ronnie O'Brien and Cooper nearly connecting in the 50th minute, as O'Brien sent in a curling cross only to have Cooper send his header over the crossbar.

Later, in the 57th minute, the Hoops got close again as Cooper sent in a strong cross to Mulrooney on the far post who slid a simple pass to O'Brien. His shot beat Crew 'keeper Noah Palmer -- making his first MLS start -- but it was saved by a sliding Gonzalez on the line.

Palmer kept the Crew in the match with two tough saves on Ruiz in the 62nd and 64th minutes. But after the flurry of chances for the Hoops, the Crew started to put together some chances going forward.

In the 75th minute FCD gave up a free kick nearly straight out from goal, where Thomas sent in a strong shot that beat Sala but rocketed off the underside of the crossbar. Bisaku was quickest to react to it and headed it over Sala into the goal.

Columbus refused to let up the pressure continuing to move forward following the goal, and the persistence paid off. Kotschau received a seemingly harmless ball in the 89th minute near midfield and proceeded to dribble through four FC Dallas defenders into the box where he beat Sala with a nice shot to the upper right corner.

After the demoralizing goal the Hoops managed to pull one back by way of a Mulrooney pass to Ruiz at the edge of the area, who turned around his defender to make space and fire it low past Palmer into the lower right-hand corner for the consolation goal.

Scott Joiner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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