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FC Dallas’ Cunningham, Sala and van den Bergh come up big in 3-0 rout of RSL.

FRISCO, TX – After an uninspiring defensive performance last week against Kansas City, FC Dallas was looking to get back on the winning track against Real Salt Lake Saturday night. They did just that, crushing Real Salt Lake 3-0 in a very one-sided game.

The loss was Real Salt Lake’s second in a row and now their chances of obtaining a playoff spot look bleak. Real Salt Lake was unable to get anything going offensively as Dallas’ defense was solid all night, giving Salt Lake very few quality chances.

Dallas forward Jeff Cunningham received most of the attention after scoring two goals and putting himself in a tie for the Golden Boot award. Midfielder Dave van den Bergh did his part by racking up two assists, giving him ten on the year, which is a career high for the 33-year-old. Goalkeeper Dario Sala was a huge reason Real Salt Lake went scoreless, as he made big save after big save.

First Half

Real Salt Lake came out flat, looking unmotivated and out of sync. FC Dallas took advantage of this and was on the attack from the opening whistle. Only four minutes into the game van den Bergh found a wide-open Cunnigham in the middle of the box. After allowing the ball to bounce once, Cunningham volleyed a shot into the lower right corner passed Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando giving FC Dallas a 1-0 lead. It was van den Bergh’s ninth assist and Cunningham’s fourteenth goal on the year.

In the 6th minute Dallas goalie Dario Sala saw his first action, saving a shot that was blasted by Real Salt Lake forward Pablo Campos. Sala had a terrific first half, saving all five of Real Salt Lake’s shots on goal, including a point blank shot by Campos in the 41st minute. Sala made it clear that Real Salt Lake was not going to get any freebies.

Real Salt Lake’s defensive looked suspect at best throughout the first half. After a defensive break down van den Bergh slipped a through ball to forward David Ferreira, who had no problem sliding it past Rimando giving Dallas a two-goal lead. It was Ferreira’s seventh goal on the season.

After FC Dallas’ defense let them down a week ago in Kansas City, tonight they looked strong in the first half. Real Salt Lake was unable to put anything together. Dallas’ defense sniffed everything out and shut down play after play, frustrating Real Salt Lake’s attackers.

In the 28th minute FC Dallas defender Jair Benitez made a streaking run out of the backfield and found himself with the ball and some open space in Real Salt Lake’s box. Benitez had an opportunity to put Dallas up 3-0 and possibly kill any chance of a Salt Lake comeback, but his shot ricocheted off the post.  

By the 33rd minute it was apparent that Real Salt Lake was becoming frustrated, as they still had had no real goal scoring opportunity. Since breaking down and getting behind the Dallas defense seemed nearly impossible, Real Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson tried a shot from nearly 30 yards out that sailed high of the goal.

After one minute of stoppage time, the ref blew his whistle, indicating half time. Dallas went into the break with a 2-0 lead, the same as they had back in their July 24th meeting with Real Salt Lake.

Second Half

Dallas came out in the second half looking to protect its lead, something they failed to do in their last match with Real Salt Lake.

Dallas looked to control the game by possessing the ball and moving it around the back line and through the midfield. After looking to counter and attack aggressively in the first half, Dallas seemed content with holding onto the ball and attacking when an opportunity presented itself. 

After tallying up two assists in the first half van den Bergh was looking to pad his stat line in the 51st minute when he ripped a line drive shot from 25 yards out after no Salt Lake defenders stepped to him. The shot was directly at Rimando, who was forced to punch it away due to its velocity.

With half an hour remaining in the game, Real Salt lake coach Jason Kries looked to his bench to try and get something going for his team, whose second half performance was not much better than its weak first half showing.

Kries used all three of his substitutions in the 62nd minute, bringing in Clint Mathis, Andy Williams and Fabian Espindola. It was an interesting move by Kries, who took out Campos, Johnson and midfielder Javier Morales, who combined for five of Salt Lake’s eight first half shots.

In the 64th minute Real Salt Lake midfielder Robbie Findley split two FC Dallas defenders in the box and found himself with a clear look at goal. Findley proved Sala could be beaten on this night when his shot slid by the goalkeeper’s outstretched hands. Unfortunately, the shot went wide of the goal.

Real Salt Lake got its best opportunity of the game in the 76th minute after FC Dallas committed an illegal back pass. Salt Lake was awarded an indirect kick from about 8 yards away. Dallas’ defense, which had been strong all night, was more than equal to the challenge, though, as substitute defender Marvin Chavez blocked Yura Movsisyan’s shot.  

It was Real Salt Lake’s last real opportunity at putting a mark on the scoreboard.

In the 87th minute, Cunningham added his second goal of the game on a blast from 20 yards out that proved to be too much for Rimando, giving FC Dallas a 3-0 lead. The shot hit the back post and then the back of the net. The unassisted goal was Cunningham’s fifteenth of the year, putting him in a tie for the Golden Boot award. 

Scott Guthrie, Goal.com

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