Dallas returned to its old stomping grounds and continued role as spoiler.
The Revs only got off two shots on target all night in a game where Rev’s goalkeeper Matt Reis was the only reason the game stayed close.
The game was held at the Cotton Bowl, which use to be Dallas’ home turf until 2005 when they moved to Pizza Hut Park. Dallas recorded its second straight shutout, denying New England three points they needed, coming into the game holding onto the eighth and final playoff spot.
Although these teams have faced each 32 times before tonight’s match-up, both teams looked to be feeling each other out for the first 15 minutes of the game.
Dallas was the more aggressive side in the early going. Looking to get on the scoreboard early, Dallas midfielder Abita Harris streaked up the right side of the field and into the penalty box where forward Jeff Cunningham found him. Harris lined a shot low and to the far post, but New England goalkeeper Matt Reis made a great diving save.
Dallas fans were holding their breaths in the 6th minute when midfielder Dave van den Bergh went down and immediately signaled for medical help. It appeared to be a right ankle injury and van den Bergh used the medical staff as crutches to help get him off the field.
Van den Bergh would return to the game only four minutes later and gave it his all, but was eventually subbed out for midfielder Marvin Chavez in the 26th.
The Revs had their own injury problems. In the 9th minute, defender Jay Heaps went down. He was immediately subbed out for defender Amaechi Igwe. New England has to hope Heaps’ injury isn’t serious after losing forward Steve Ralston last Saturday for the rest of the season.
New England finally cracked Dallas’ back four, which was strong all first half, in the 20th minute, when midfielder Jeff Larentowics hit a solid strike from 25 yards out. The shot would prove to be New England’s only legitimate chance of the first half.
Dallas kept the pressure on the Revs and made Reis prove why he has been one the leagues top 'keepers this season, posting a 1.05 goals-against average.
FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira lofted a ball in the box from the left flank in the 28th minute. The ball found Cunningham’s head first as he flicked it oncoming midfielder Dax McCarty, who blasted a header toward the upper 90. Reis came up with another big save, denying McCarty his fourth goal of the year.
New England really struggled to find a rhythm in the first half with only three shots total and only one of those on target. Dallas took its time putting together chances, working the ball around the back and finding a checking Ferreira before looking to attack over the top and on the flanks.
New England midfielder Wells Thompson was stripped of the ball by Chavez in the 37th minute, who preceded to take advantage of a ton of space on the left side before whipping in a cross that barely skimmed over the head of Cunningham.
Dallas headed to the locker room as the dominant team of the first half but had nothing to show for it.
Dallas started the second half where it left off in the first: attacking. In the 51st minute, Dax McCarty had the ball at his feet whizzing towards goal. Revs defender Emmanuel Osei was late stepping to McCarty and committed a foul as McCarty tried to side step him.
Ferreira took the ensuing free kick from the left side about 20 yards out but put it well high of the bar.
New England got its first chance of the second half in the 55th minute. New England had a dangerous free kick from about 40 yards out. Dallas Defender Jair Benitez made a controversial save from his knees, which resulted in Revs players raising their hands looking for a handball. The ball deflected to Igwe, whose shot was also blocked by Benitez.
With only 33 minutes left tension was building, and McCarty was on the attack again, looking to break the scoreless drought. Chavez, who was active all game on the right side after coming in for van den Bergh, found McCarty on the back post with a great cross. McCarty mishit his header, though, pushing it wide of the mark in the 57th minute.
Dallas kept pressing for the majority of the second half, continuing their dominance from the first half. Harris had a chance in the 66th minute, but Reis once again came up big for New England. Reis was really the only reason this game was even close.
In the 71stminute, after multiple quality chances, Cunningham finally was able to find the back of the net. He hit a beautiful header placed perfectly in the left side upper 90, giving Dallas a 1-0 lead. Reis was finally beaten on a night in which he was outstanding.
It was Cunningham’s 16th goal of the year, making him the league's scoring leader.
Dallas kept the pressure on after the goal, getting a two more quality chances from Cunningham and Ferreira within a minute of each other. They continued to find gaps in New England’s defense that had breakdown after breakdown throughout the night.
Things got chippy in stoppage time between New England’s Thompson and FC Dallas midfielder Andre Rocha. Both received red cards after a confrontation in the corner. It was Rocha’s second yellow card in three minutes. He had only entered the game in the 76th minute, replacing Chavez.
The win was FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman’s first against New England.
Scott Guthrie, Goal.com
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