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FC Dallas fights back from down 3 to draw with DC

Published 7/14/2007 10:27:00 PM by staff from mlsnet.com
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FC Dallas staged a remarkable comeback, coming back from three goals down with 40 minutes to play to secure a 3-3 draw with D.C. United on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. Luciano Emilio and Fred had pegged United to a two-goal lead in the first half, then two minutes after the halftime break, Emilio hit for his second and United were cruising. But Carlos Ruiz pulled a goal back just four minutes later, and then Juan Toja hit for two goals 10 minutes apart to complete the comeback, the largest in Dallas club history.

It took United just eight minutes to jump into the lead on a stunningly quick sequence that provided a textbook example of United's counterattacking flair.  With Dallas pushed forward into the attacking third, Greg Vanney blocked a shot and released Fred down the left flank. The Brazilian alertly found Jaime Moreno with an early diagonal ball to the far side, and United's captain took full advantage of defender Chris Gbandi's slip, advancing into the box before squaring to Luciano Emilio for a point-blank finish as the RFK fans went wild.  Ruiz was looking sharp in the early going and he troubled the D.C. defense with some quick touches in the 22nd minute, cutting past Devon McTavish in the United penalty box and forcing a near-post kick save from Perkins.

After Christian Gomez's smart through ball allowed Fred to race in behind the Hoops defense in the 31st minute, United got plenty of attackers into the box but no one could find space to release a shot until Gomez found Moreno at the near post with a short pass from the left endline. With his back to goal, the veteran Bolivian nearly fooled Sala with a cheeky flick but the goalkeeper stood his ground and gloved the close-range effort.  Toja, named to the MLS All-Star First XI, forced Perkins into a sparkling save at the other end of the field when he attacked a high cross into the United box, drilling a header down towards the lower right corner of the net -- only for the D.C. netminder to fling himself to his right and palm the bid to safety.

Coaches often point to the crucial influence of goals scored near halftime, and Dallas got a hard lesson in that phenomenon when United found the net with two well-taken finishes just before and after the break.  Mere moments before referee Tim Weyland blew his whistle to end the first 45 minutes, Moreno -- who was kept onside by Hoops center back Clarence Goodson as the rest of the FCD defense stepped up -- received a long clearance from Bobby Boswell at the edge of the penalty area.

Though he had plenty of space himself, the Bolivian saw Fred jetting towards the far post and scooped a volley into the path of his run. Sala desperately shuffled to his right to shut down the angle but he was too late as Fred's header squeezed inside the woodwork.  Then just two minutes after the second-half restart, Emilio grabbed his second tally of the night to dig Dallas an even deeper hole. Olsen took a short pass from Moreno on the right side of the FCD box and made just enough space to curl a low cross into the goalmouth. Emilio had floated into the danger zone just inside the penalty spot and he beat Sala with a deft flick into the inside netting.

Down 3-0 on the road, FCD nearly handed their hosts a fourth as Adrian Serioux sent a square pass straight to Emilio, eventually leading to Gomez's sharp shot towards the upper corner, drawing an athletic save from Sala.  But the tide began to turn when Ruiz got his side's first in the 51st minute, burying Arturo Alvarez's cross from the left endline with a powerful header. Then United lost the services of their captain when Moreno pulled up lame while chasing down a Fred through ball. He clutched at his hamstring and immediately signaled for a substitution, with Guy-Roland Kpene taking his spot.

Kpene should have added to his side's lead in the 70th minute after playing a one-two with Gomez, but with only Sala to beat, the young Ivorian blasted his shot straight at the Argentinean 'keeper. That missed opportunity would rapidly come back to haunt United as Dallas responded less than a minute later, cutting the deficit in half thanks to a hard-charging run by Toja.  The live-wire Colombian had largely struggled to make his mark on this match, but that changed when he took a pass from Ruiz and muscled past Carroll in the D.C. box, then blasted a left-footer over Perkins' right shoulder from 10 yards out to move the score to 3-2 and hand the visitors the momentum.

United were looking lethargic and uncertain as FCD began to win a greater number of 50-50 balls and take control of possession for long periods -- but it took an uncharacteristic error from Perkins to complete their comeback.  The sequence began when Bobby Rhine was given far too much space and time some 25 yards out from goal, allowing the veteran to loft a high arcing cross to the far post. With Toja lurking, Perkins made a very late decision to claim the ball and came up second-best as the Dallas midfielder snapped a header into the empty net.

The Black-and-Red were stung by the turn of events, and finally provided a response as Fred nearly notched his second after receiving a cross from Emilio and clipping in a low shot that caromed off a defender and had to be knocked out for a corner kick.  Then United had several golden chances to reclaim the three points in the dying minutes -- first Olsen saw a shot blocked, then Emilio headed just wide from close-range. But the Hoops held on for the 3-3 draw, denying United a chance to move back into first place in the Eastern Conference as they rued their late collapse.

FC Dallas (9-6-3) vs. D.C. United (7-5-3)
July 14, 2007 -- RFK Stadium

Scoring Summary:
DC -- Luciano Emilio 9 (Jaime Moreno 2, Fred 5) 8
DC -- Fred 2 (Jaime Moreno 3, Bobby Boswell 1) 45
DC -- Luciano Emilio 10 (Ben Olsen 2) 47
DAL -- Carlos Ruiz 3 (Arturo Alvarez 2) 51
DAL -- Juan Toja 5 (Carlos Ruiz 2, Arturo Alvarez 3) 71
DAL -- Juan Toja 6 (Abe Thompson 4) 81

Label: FC Dallas, DC United, MLS, Juan Toja, Luciano Emilio, Fred
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