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FC Dallas drops halftime lead, loses in Columbus

Published 8/16/2008 8:32:16 PM by staff from dallas
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The FC Dallas shutout streak had just reached 265 minutes and the Columbus Crew had not scored in 167 but all that changed quickly thanks to the work of Crew forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto.  The Argentinean standout showed why he is the MLS assists leader, notching his 11th and 12th of the season in a three-minute stretch of the second half that helped turn a first-half deficit into a 2-1 Columbus victory before the largest crowd this season at Crew Stadium.    FC Dallas saw their five-game unbeaten streak end and also lost for the first time after scoring first and leading at the half, after Jeff Cunningham put the Hoops into the lead in the 35th minute with the 100th league tally of his career.

Defensive midfielder Brian Carroll had his first goal of the season and just the third in 141 career games to tie the score for the Crew in the 62nd minute and Brad Evans put Columbus ahead three minutes later.   It was a bitter end for Dallas after starting so well. It was all FCD from the opening kickoff due to the play of Kenny Cooper and Cunningham.   Cooper, second in the league behind Landon Donovan with 13 goals, had four of the team's six shots in the first 22 minutes but it was his service from the left flank six minutes earlier that nearly resulted in the initial goal.   Cunningham's header from eight yards was cleared off the line by Crew defender Chad Marshall and the rebound attempt by Andre Rocha was deflected wide.

In the 23rd minute Cunningham broke past the defense and had the ball on his foot at the penalty spot but goalkeeper Will Hesmer made a sliding tackle to snatch the ball before a shot could be taken.  The Crew's first good chance didn't come until the 30th minute when Aaron Pitchkolan fouled Alejandro Moreno inches outside the top left of the penalty area. Schelotto bent the ensuing free kick around the right side of the wall but goalkeeper Dario Sala was in perfect position to block the shot.   Columbus was the only team in MLS that Cunningham had not scored against in his illustrious career but there was an excuse because he spent seven seasons with the Crew before being traded in 2005. The fourth-leading scorer in MLS history made amends in the 35th minute give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The Hoops, particularly the speedy Cunningham, had exploited Crew left back Gino Padula in his first game back from injury since April 26. After Cunningham was unable to convert his early opportunities, Serioux dribbled past Padula toward the end line then sent a low ball into the goal area. Cunningham got his left foot on the ball as he charged toward the net just as goalkeeper Will Hesmer made a play for the ball two yards off the goal line.   It was the 35th goal Cunningham scored in Columbus and the 30th in Crew Stadium (the others came in Ohio Stadium in 1998). However, it was his first in Columbus since Oct. 2, 2004, a stretch of five games. He scored 62 of his goals for the Crew from 1998-2004, and is tied with Brian McBride, now of the Chicago Fire, atop the Crew's all-time goal list.   The Crew pulled level in the 62nd minute. Moreno made a long cross-field pass from the left to a fading Schelotto, who headed the ball back toward Carroll for a clinical finish.

Carroll's last goal was July 15, 2006, against the Crew while playing for D.C. United but he moved unchallenged in front of the net on a rapidly developed play to score.   Then three minutes later, Schelotto delivered a free kick from the left of goal to the near post where Evans had inside position on Pablo Ricchetti inside the goal area for a wicked glancing header past Sala.   Evans almost made it 3-1 in the 78th when he ran full stride onto a Frankie Hejduk cross at the top of the box only to see the strike hit the right upright.   Still, it was enough for the Crew to escape with the win although Cooper came within inches of tying the match in the third minute of stoppage time only to see his free kick from 25 yards smack the crossbar. The game could have been billed as the battle of the newcomers as both teams used their bye week to add reinforcement to their attacks.

Dallas welcomed Cunningham and Dutch midfielder Victor Sikora to the lineup while midfielder Pat Noonan made his debut for the Crew after his arrival from a short stint this year in Norway.   Sikora signed with Dallas Aug. 8 following three years with NAC Breda of the Dutch Eredivisie in one of many moves by Schellas Hyndman since he became coach on June 17.  Noonan scored 37 regular-season goals for New England over five seasons before going overseas in February. In order to obtain him, the Crew had to make a deal with New England for his rights.  Each team also regained an Olympian this week when the U.S. was eliminated on Wednesday. While midfielder Dax McCarty did not dress for Dallas, midfielder Robbie Rogers replaced Noonan in the 58th minute. The Crew's Nigerian midfielder, Emmanuel Ekpo, is still his Olympic squad, which reached the semifinals earlier on Saturday.

Label: FC Dallas, Columbus Crew, Jeff Cunningham, Brian Carroll, Brad Evans
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