Jeff Cunningham's 17th goal of the season for Dallas condemned San Jose to another postseason-less year.
Both teams were on a two game winning streak coming into tonight’s match and looked to ride that momentum to keep playoff hopes alive. The last time San Jose and Dallas met on the pitch, they played out to a 2-2 draw.
First team players were absent from both squads. For San Jose, Andre Luiz, Darren Huckerby, and Jason Hernandez were all sidelined with injuries. Meanwhile, Arturo Alvarez, Ramon Sanchez, and Simon Elliot had international duties. For Dallas, Anthony Wallace was out injured, and Atiba Harris and Andre Rocha served suspensions.
The first good chance of the match came in the 9th minute. Dallas forward David Ferreira sent a pinpoint pass to strike partner Jeff Cunningham, who was running to goal. Cunningham side-footed the ball toward the right corner of the net, beating goalkeeper Joe Cannon. Just before the ball could cross the line, San Jose centerback Brandon McDonald burst onto the scene and cleared it away.
A minute later, Cunningham again received a pass in the box and fired straight on goal, only to see it deflect away off McDonald.
Twenty minutes into the match, Dallas midfielder Dax McCarty launched a long ball up into San Jose’s half. Cunningham used his blistering pace to beat centerback Bobby Burling and took the ball in his stride. He dribbled to the left side of the box and drilled in a low shot. Cannon got down to make the block.
While the first part of this half belonged to Dallas, San Jose came alive in the latter portion.
Just before the half hour mark, Earthquakes winger Bobby Convey took a free kick on the left flank. He delivered a curling ball into the box. The towering Burley won the header, directing the ball toward goal. His effort sailed just wide of the far post.
San Jose created another good chance in the 39th minute. Forward Ryan Johnson headed the ball across the face of goal, and midfielder Shea Salinas got on the end of it to volley toward the net. Goalkeeper Dario Sala used his leg to save the point-blank shot.
Two minutes later, Convey sent another free kick into the box, and forward Chris Wondolowski headed an absolute rocket toward goal. Sala positioned himself perfectly to make another good block with his leg.
Though both teams had created chances, neither side could finish. The first half ended 0-0.
Dallas got on the scoreboard four minutes into the second half.
Cunningham, with his back to goal just outside the 18-yard box, cut a pass between two defenders to release Ferreira on goal. Ferreira made a diagonal run from the left to receive the pass, took a touch to get around Cannon, and slid the ball to the far corner of the net. It was Ferreira’s eighth goal of the year.
San Jose almost snagged the equalizer three minutes later. Convey had the ball inside the box and dropped a pass back for teammate Antonio Ribeiro to run onto. Ribeiro sprinted forward and drilled a left-footed shot on goal. Sala came up with another big save after diving for the ball and pushing it just outside the right post.
The equalizer finally came for the Earthquakes in the 73rd minute. Substitute Quincy Amarikwa tore down the right and reached a long pass from Salinas. Amarikwa showed remarkable composure in front of goal. He waited for Sala to commit and go to ground before chipping the ball over him to send it bouncing into the net. It was his first ever MLS goal.
With things all square, the match really began to open up as both teams went for the win.
Ryan Johnson fired a dangerous shot just over the crossbar in the 76th from an acute angle on the left side of goal. He had another good run in the 81st minute, but was unluckily called for a foul as he tried to squeeze between two defenders in the box.
Dallas notched the game-winner with a swift counter-attack. Ferreira slid a crafty pass behind San Jose’s backline, and McCarty ran onto it and passed left just before Cannon could intercept. His pass found Cunningham all alone. The striker tapped the ball in the net to give Dallas a 2-1 lead. This marked the 17th goal for Cunningham this season, making him the league's top scorer.
After taking the lead, Dallas sat back and defended for most of the rest of the game. Meanwhile, San Jose switched out a forward for a fullback and pressed hard for the equalizer.
The Earthquakes got one more opportunity to tie things up deep into stoppage time. Johnson won a corner kick, and Salinas delivered a curling ball into the box. Johnson jumped for it and headed toward goal. Cannon, who had come all the way up, headed over Sala, but defender Jair Benitez cleared it off the line.
San Jose’s best efforts weren’t enough to even the score, and the match ended with Dallas earning all three points.
"I'm disappointed with the result," said San Jose coach Frank Yallop. "I felt we should have at least tied the game, to be honest. We had chances, but we didn't play very well.
"A few guys hadn't played in a while in our team, and it kind of showed. I thought we looked dangerous from set plays but I thought our general play, especially in the final third, was poor tonight."
"We still have a little bit of breath in us to dream about a playoff opportunity," FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said. "We came in and played our best, and I thought the goals we scored were pretty good goals."
For their match, San Jose (7-13-7, 28pts) go on the road to face Toronto on Saturday. FC Dallas (10-12-6, 36pts) take a break this weekend, and will host the Colorado Rapids on October 17th.
Jennifer Dawson, Goal.com
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