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FC Dallas beats Houston in first playoff leg

Published 10/28/2007 6:59:11 PM by staff from fc dallas
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The FC Dallas slogan for this year's playoffs is Mission 360. The Hoops got 90 minutes closer to their goal of winning MLS Cup 2007 with a 1-0 win Saturday night against reigning MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals at Pizza Hut Park.    The lone goal of the night came from Clarence Goodson in the 23rd minute but in the end, it proved to be sufficient. Goodson's goal came after FCD midfielder Adrian Serioux, a member of Houston's championship team a year ago, sent a throw-in from about 40 yards out. Serioux's throw then deflected off Dynamo defender Ryan Cochrane and to Goodson, who was in the middle of the six-yard box to stab it home.

FCD head coach Steve Morrow made several changes to his starting 11 from last week's 2-0 loss to Kansas City, which ended the regular season. The first was goalkeeper Dario Sala, who last played in a 3-0 loss to Houston in Frisco on Sept. 30, the last of four regular season meetings between FCD and Dynamo, three of which were won by Houston (with one draw).  The Argentinean had been the Hoops's starting 'keeper for much of the year before missing the last three games and responded with four big saves in the victory.  Morrow also plugged Houston native Chris Gbandi in at left back. Gbandi, who last year was FCD's defender of the year, had not played since he was sent off in the 23rd minute of a 2-1 loss at the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sept. 23.

Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear opted to not start midfielder Brad Davis, who had missed 13 games earlier in the season with a knee injury before starting in each of Houston's last two matches. Davis did enter in the 64th minute for Stuart Holden.  Right after the quarter-hour mark, things started to get heated between the in-state rivals. In the 19th minute, FCD captain Carlos Ruiz was shown yellow after apparently delivering an elbow to the head of his perennial arch-nemesis, Dynamo defender Eddie Robinson.

Then in the 26th, Cochrane exacted a bit of revenge on Robinson's behalf when he fouled Ruiz hard on the far side of the field and referee Kevin Stott wrote his name in the book for the second caution of the evening.  Goodson struck in the 23rd minute after coming up from his central defense spot in anticipation of Serioux's long throw. It was Goodson's second straight playoff goal for the Hoops. He also netted one in extra time against Colorado in the second leg of the West Semifinals, a match the Hoops ultimately lost 3-2.

Houston's best chance of the opening half came late when in the 42nd minute, Brian Mullan got on the end of a free kick. His header went just to the left of the FC Dallas goal and the match remained 1-0 in favor of the home team.  Kinnear must have given his team quite a halftime speech because from the start of the second half, Dynamo came out with guns blazing. In the 48th minute, Dwayne DeRosario found a little wiggle room to the left of the FCD goal but with an opposing defender closing in, had to rush his shot and Hoops goalkeeper Dario Sala made the save.

Sala's tipping the ball over the endline resulted in a corner. Holden received his kick from near the top of the box and looked to shank the ball of the side of his foot, but his effort bounced and went just inches to the left of the goal.  Houston continued putting pressure on the Hoops backline in the 50th minute. Defender Craig Waibel found himself with a nice look at the opposing goal but he was unable to muster much of a shot and Sala made another easy save.

DeRosario was heard from again in the 53rd but was denied when his shot was deflected. Four minutes later, Robinson found some room but Sala made yet another save. Another Robinson shot in the 64th was also offline, sailing high over the FCD goal.  Morrow first went to his bench in the 66th when he brought on the speedy Dominic Oduro for Ruiz. The Guatemalan international left the field after a quiet evening in which he failed to register a single shot.

Kinnear made his second substitution in the 70th when he brought Nate Jaqua in for Joseph Ngwenya. Morrow's second change came in the 76th when Dax McCarty, making his playoff debut, came on for Ricchetti.  After chasing the ball for most of the second half, FCD was finally credited with their first shot of the second half, and second of the game in the 67th, but Gbandi saw his effort deflected. Oduro sent a shot wide right in the 76th minute, then three minutes was shown yellow after a high, hard tackle on Richard Mulrooney.

But Dynamo continued to pile on the pressure, searching for the equalizer, and once again, it was DeRosario creating chances. In the 77th, his shot was deflected and another opportunity in the 80th minute ended with him launching one wide right.  The visitors then nearly tied the score in the 89th. Jaqua sent a great ball in for Ching, who got his head on the receiving end, only to be denied by Sala. The ensuing carom fell at DeRosario's feet but his scorching blast went to the right of the FCD goal with Sala scrambling to get back between the posts.

The FC Dallas win came eight years to the day that the club clinched their last win in a playoff series. On Oct. 27, 1999, the Dallas Burn handed Chicago a 3-2 defeat at the Cotton Bowl, which remains their last playoff series victory.

Label: MLS, MLS playoffs, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Clarence Goodson, Juan Toja
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