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FC Dallas hosts Chivas USA in home opener

Published 3/27/2008 8:08:59 AM by staff from mlsnet
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Opening the MLS regular season at home is nothing new for FC Dallas. Last year, when the Hoops began the year at Real Salt Lake and came away with a 2-2 draw, was the first time in club history that FC Dallas had opened away from home.  That was the first of three consecutive road games to kick off the season and the Hoops returned to Frisco with four of a possible nine points prior to their season opener against Colorado on April 22. But this year already promises to be different.  That's because once again, FCD will open the regular season at home when they face Chivas USA on Sunday, beginning the campaign at Pizza Hut Park 2 pm.

"It is (a good thing to open at home)," FCD head coach Steve Morrow said. "That's why we wanted our last few preseason games at home, is to get in the right mode and frame of mind. It's great to start at home with a good game and then to go away to Houston in the second game is a big challenge to start off with. But it's where we want to be a just what we're looking for to start the season, is two competitive games. We want to get good results in those games and push forward."

All-time, the Hoops are 6-3-3 in the season opener and haven't dropped their first match of the year since 2002, when San Jose handed the Dallas Burn a 2-0 defeat at the Cotton Bowl. In FCD's last season opener at Pizza Hut Park, against Chicago in 2006, the Hoops claimed a 3-2 victory.  Hoops veteran Bobby Rhine, now in his 10th season with the club, has a theory about why the Hoops have performed so well in their season openers over the years.

"I think it has so much to do that it is a long preseason and that we get a home game that really counts at the end of that," Rhine said. "As we prepare, we know that we will have a good home crowd in our first game. We always want to give them a good result, especially in the home opener."

He admits that opening last season away from home was a bit strange but that makes he and his teammates appreciate this year's first match even more.

"That's definitely nice," Rhine said. "We know that the first road trip is still in Texas, so it's nice to have that in place. We're just ready to get the first game going. It's such a long preseason with eight or nine weeks and it takes its toll. We expect a good home crowd on Sunday and are ready to go."

FCD defender Alex Yi sees being able to kick off the 2008 season in Frisco as a big advantage for his side.  "Everyone wants to start the season off on a positive note and if you can start at home, there's more of an advantage," Yi said. "It's really important for us to get the first step out of the way hopefully with a victory. Being home will help us do that."

But while Rhine and Yi prefer to open the season in the friendly confines of Pizza Hut Park, 2007 MLS all-star midfielder Juan Toja has no such preference. The Colombian international just wants to hit the field and really doesn't care where as long as he's playing.

"For me, it's not a big difference whether we start the season here or on the road," Toja said. "For me, it's the same thing. We have to play well and win no matter where it's at."  But the FC Dallas fan favorite does admit that playing at home does result in a better atmosphere for him and the rest of the Hoops.  "It's a good thing for the fans and is better for them when we open at home because they can come here, cheer us on and help us," Toja said. "I want to play well and make a difference in front of them. But for me, it doesn't matter whether we start the season at home or on the road. We play at home and on the road the same number of times a year, so it doesn't matter."

Label: FC Dallas, Chivas USA, MLS soccer, Juan Toja
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