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RSL end Dallas playoff hopes

Posted on 19 October 2008 by Patrick McShane

Movsisyan and Serioux tangle ©ASN/Julia Fizer

Real Salt Lake inched one step closer to their first playoff appearance Saturday night as they casually dispatched of a FC Dallas squad playing with only 10 men after the 30th minute. It was make-or-break time for RSL as they played their second – and what could have been their final – match in their new stadium this season. Both Dallas and RSL entered the match fighting for the playoff lives, and for the first 20 minutes, it appeared that Dallas were the more hungry of the two teams.

RSL were in a hole within 7 minutes as Dallas converted a throw in from standout defender Adrian Serioux. Dallas jumped all over RSL from the opening whistle, earning numerous throw-in opportunities in dangerous areas while RSL seemed low on energy and apathetic. Serioux finally found a target on his third long-distance throw as he placed the ball perfectly to the head of an onrushing Marcelo Saragosa who nodded the ball home past a diving Nick Rimando. However, it appeared that the 1-0 hole knocked RSL awake as they began to find their legs and push forward.

The match continued to fluctuate between both teams until the 30th minute when Saragosa’s heroics now turned to villainy as he was ejected from the match for his second bookable offense. After receiving a yellow card just minutes prior for obstruction and a pushing match with RSL midfielder Dema Kovalenko, Saragosa was already being watched by head referee Kevin Stott when he came flying in to challenge RSL defender Robbie Russell for a header with his right elbow raised. It didn’t take a moment for Stott to award Saragosa his second yellow, subsequently giving RSL a man advantage for over an hour.

©ASN/Julia Fizer

It took RSL just five minutes to capitalize on Saragosa’s ejection as forward Yura Movsisyan continued his hot streak and fired home his sixth goal of the season off of a Drew Moor deflection. Receiving a beautiful pass from midfielder Javier Morales just at the top of the box, Movsisyan spun on Dallas captain Duilio Davino and fired a beautiful shot that took a ricochet off of Moor who was sliding to disrupt the play. One could sense that RSL was beginning to gain confidence off of the draw as they created several chances in the final minutes of the first half, including a dangerous header from Russell that required a diving save from Dallas keeper Dario Sala.

The second half appeared to be a continuation RSL’s lively attack despite Dallas reverting to a 4-4-1 formation to combat Saragosa’s loss and bunker on defense. This tactic seemed to do little to slow RSL’s attack as they continued to press on the wings, particularly with the addition of Andy Williams who replaced Kovalenko at half. RSL’s attacking buildup finally came to fruition in the 54th minute when midfielder Will Johnson rocketed home a spectacular shot to give RSL the 2-1 lead they had been chasing all match. Receiving a pass from Chris Wingert at the top of the box, Johnson popped the ball up with his toe and volleyed in a one-touch shot that bounced off of the right bar and in.

Ian Joy ©ASN/Julia Fizer

Even with the lead secured, RSL continued to press for a third goal to put the match out of reach. Unfortunately for the nerves of the 17,628 fans in attendance, it took until the 86th minute for RSL to finally gain the breathing room they desperately wanted. Countering after Dallas carelessly gave away possession, Morales and Williams combined on a tight passing play that resulted in the perfect setup to striker Robbie Findley who put home a beautiful shot to the top right corner of goal just beyond Sala’s reach. Not only was the goal important for RSL and their efforts in the match, it was also important for Findley who was looking to break out of a goal-scoring slump. “That’s what they put me in for at the end of the game, to add a little spark and hopefully to put the game away, if I can. I’ve been in a little drought, so to get that goal definitely helps me out a lot.”

With the win secured, RSL began to let down offensively and celebrate the possibility of their first playoff appearance. Unfortunately, Dallas were also considering their fortune of now being eliminated from playoff contention due to Kansas City & New York wins earlier in the night. This frustration spread to the players as Dallas earned their second red card of the night due to a reckless tackle from Pablo Ricchetti against Johnson. Despite the negative conclusion to an otherwise incredible night, RSL knew that they could now focus on watching Sunday’s match between Colorado and Chivas USA as that game determines the final step in their march towards the playoffs.

If Colorado fails to win (a loss or a draw) against Chivas, RSL will clinch the third automatic berth in the Western Conference, resulting in a potential home match on November 1st in a semifinal series against Chivas. Said coach Jason Kreis after the match: “We’ll be watching the (Chivas USA-Colorado) game tomorrow with our fingers crossed, hoping things go our way.”

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AT A GLANCE

FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake
Oct. 18, 2008, Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah.
Scoring Summary:
DAL — Marcelo Saragosa 1 (Adrian Serioux 3) 7
RSL — Yura Movsisyan 6 (Javier Morales 14) 35
RSL — Will Johnson 2 (Chris Wingert 3) 54
RSL — Robbie Findley 6 (Javier Morales 15, Andy Williams 3) 86

FC Dallas — Dario Sala, Adrian Serioux (Eric Avila 58), Duilio Davino, Drew Moor, Blake Wagner, Victor Sikora (Dominic Oduro 71), Bruno Guarda, Pablo Ricchetti, Marcelo Saragosa, Jeff Cunningham, Kenny Cooper (Jamie Watson 79).

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert, Jamison Olave, Robbie Russell, Ian Joy, Kyle Beckerman, Dema Kovalenko (Andy Williams 46), Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Clint Mathis (Kenny Deuchar 89), Yura Movsisyan (Robbie Findley 73).

Misconduct Summary:
RSL — Robbie Russell (caution; Reckless Foul) 10
DAL — Marcelo Saragosa (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 22
RSL — Dema Kovalenko (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 22
DAL — Marcelo Saragosa (ejection; Second Caution) 30
DAL — Eric Avila (caution; Reckless Foul) 68
DAL — Duilio Davino (caution; Reckless Foul) 77
DAL — Pablo Ricchetti (ejection; Violent Conduct) 90

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Toronto slips at home in battle of FCs

Posted on 04 August 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Kenny Cooper put Toronto FC to the sword on Sunday afternoon, scoring two late goals for FC Dallas to send John Carver’s side to their first Major League Soccer loss at home in 2008. TFC are falling fast after a great start to the season and now look likely to miss out on the playoffs unless they can turn things around.

Click here for our Dallas correspondent Phillip Woodruff’s take on Sunday’s game.

The sun was bearing down on BMO Field on a hot summer afternoon, fostering a sluggish start to the game from both sides. Toronto were taking the initiative through Rohan Ricketts and Jim Brennan’s overlapping runs down the left flank, but the FC Dallas defenders were able to keep goalkeeper Dario Sala from too much trouble in the early stages.

FCD coach Schellas Hyndman was forced into an early change in just the 6th minute, bringing in Michael Dello-Russo for midfielder Marcelo Saragosa, who was forced to leave the game with a calf strain.

The best chance of the first half came from Toronto’s centerback Marco Vélez, who found himself alone on the end of a Laurent Robert corner in the 19th minute but could only hit a bouncing shot straight at Sala.

Just moments later, Vélez made contact with Sala jumping for another corner, leaving the Dallas keeper winded and needing a few minutes, enough time for referee Baldomero Toledo to hand Vélez a yellow card. Replays showed that the contact appeared incidental at worst and hardly malicious.

The second half started lively, with both sides eager to make the breakthrough. Just after the hour mark, Bruno Guarda entered the game for Dallas and Tyler Hemming replaced Julius James in the Toronto lineup, instantly making his mark with several darting runs down the right flank.

It marked an interesting turnaround for the London, Ontario native, as Hemming had left the club earlier this season to pursue opportunites in Europe. With Jarrod Smith’s promotion to the senior roster, however, Hemming was able to rejoin the club as a senior development player and has made the most of that opportunity.

New signing Chad Barrett came close for the Reds in the 69th minute, collecting a headed clearance in the area and lashing a shot over Sala’s goal. The former Chicago striker appeared to have strained a calf muscle in the play and was substituted for Jarrod Smith after another lengthy delay.

The game’s real talking point came at the turn of the 79th minute, however. Kenny Cooper was looking for space on the left side when the whistle blew for an apparent off-the-ball incident in the 18-yard-box involving Amado Guevara and Pablo Ricchetti. Guevara sent the Argentine tumbling to the ground and was given a straight red card while Ricchetti tended a bloody nose.

photo credit: Chris Hazard

The foul took place in the penalty area, leaving FCD with an opportunity to take the lead from 12 yards. Cooper stutter-stepped to the spot and easily sent Sutton the wrong way, taking the lead and seemingly condemning 10-man Toronto to a first league defeat at home this season.

Toronto’s players were incensed with the call, with captain Brennan leading the protests and subsequently booked for dissent. Vélez contested another seemingly routine throw-in decision just minutes later too vigorously for Toledo, who issued the Puerto Rican his second yellow card, reducing TFC to nine men.

Amid coach John Carver’s protests, Toledo made his way to the sidelines and bizarrely sent off Toronto physio Carmelo Lobue.

Five minutes of stoppage time was greeted with ironic applause from the home fans, but their enthusiasm was short-lived as Cooper struck just seconds after the 90th minute mark. The free-scoring striker found space with two defenders ahead of him and struck a 30-yard shot at Sutton, who dove to his right but couldn’t keep out the bouncing ball.

Again, the Canadian goalkeeper looked as though he should have done better with the chance. The club’s recent streak may have dented Sutton’s confidence and could open the door for American prospect Brian Edwards to get the call in Colorado on Saturday.

Photo credit: Tim Drodge

Toronto’s ill-discipline may have done them in once again, but club captain Jim Brennan had other ideas.

“I think we’ve done alright, but the game got spoiled a little bit,” he said afterwards. “It was an entertaining game, we had them pinned in the second half there and we had a great chance, we felt we were going to score. Then, certain things happen and it wrecks the game, and that’s what happened today.”

FC Dallas defender and Canadian international Adrian Serioux had his own interpretation of events:

“It’s always good to come back and play in front of family and friends and get a result that we needed badly. You know it’s a great atmosphere and I’m sure the fans were behind their team, but when certain players on your team aren’t disciplined, as they were tonight, it’s costly, and that’s what happened to them.”

Coach Carver was reserved in his criticism of the officials, preferring to focus instead on the roster problems affecting Toronto.

“It’s frightening,” he told reporters after the game. “We only had 5 on the bench. There’s a reason for that, they’ve got to prove to me that they’re good enough to play and get on the bench… I think we might have to get (Academy coach and former Canadian international) Nick Dasovic to put his boots on!”

Carver refused to blame Barrett for the team’s scoring woes.

“He did some good things… I think he’s more of a poacher, he’s not a spectacular goal-man… The more he gets to know the guys the more he’ll get on, and I think he’s got goals in him. He needs to work on his fitness.”

With Sunday’s defeat, Toronto sit precariously in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, one point outside of the playoff reckoning with a game in hand over Los Angeles Galaxy.

The top two sides in each division will be seeded against the next-best four teams regardless of conference, leaving Toronto in a cross-division battle with the Galaxy, Chivas USA, Kansas City Wizards, Red Bull New York, Colorado Rapids and even outsiders San Jose Earthquakes for the last playoff spot. Just five points separate the eight-placed Galaxy from historical rivals San Jose in last place, who stole a 3-2 win over David Beckham and company on the weekend.

Toronto’s next chance to close the gap comes at Dick’s Sporting Goods park in Colorado on Saturday, a potentially must-win game for either side as they try to secure playoff action after missing out last season.

Match Facts

FC Dallas (6-6-7) vs. Toronto FC (6-8-4)
August 3, 2008 — BMO Field

Scoring Summary:
FCD — Kenny Cooper 12 (penalty kick [Ricchetti]) 81
FCD — Kenny Cooper 13 (unassisted) 90+1

FC Dallas Dario Sala, Drew Moor, Aaron Pitchkolan, Blake Wagner, Adrian Serioux, Andre Rocha (Bruno Guarda 64), Eric Avila, Pablo Ricchetti, Marcelo Saragosa (Michael Dello-Russo 7), Kenny Cooper, Dominic Oduro (Abe Thompson 74).

Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Daniels, Mike Graczyk, Jamie Watson, Chase Wileman

Toronto FC — Greg Sutton, Julius James (Tyler Hemming 65), Tyrone Marshall, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan, Rohan Ricketts, Amado Guevara, Carl Robinson, Laurent Robert, Chad Barrett (Jarrod Smith 70), Jeff Cunningham (Kevin Harmse 87).

Substitutes Not Used: Brian Edwards, Tyler Rosenlund

Misconduct Summary:
TOR — Marco Velez (caution; Reckless Foul) 27
DAL — Andre Rocha (caution; Reckless Foul) 57
TOR — Amado Guevara (ejection; Violent Conduct) 79
TOR — Jim Brennan (caution; Dissent) 81
TOR — Marco Velez (ejection; Second Caution) 84

Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: C.J. Morgante; Adam Wienckowski
4th official: Jorge Gonzalez
Time of game: 1:56
Attendance: 20,247
Weather: Sunny -and- 77 degrees

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