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FC Dallas suffers first loss of the season to New England

Published 4/25/2008 1:44:33 AM by staff from dallas
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FC Dallas came into Thursday's game with the New England Revolution as the only unbeaten side in MLS. Unfortunately,  it was business as usual for the Revolution as they once again left Pizza Hut Park with a victory.  Khano Smith provided the game's only goal for a 1-0 triumph.   Smith's 72nd-minute goal tally, his first of the year, came after he chased down a ball almost on the left touchline. Smith won a battle with Hoops midfielder Dax McCarty and burst toward the goal. Cutting across the top of the area, he hit a low shot that went into the far side of the net past keeper Dario Sala.

Over the opening quarter of the match, neither goalkeeper was called into action as a number of early chances for both teams failed to find the mark. The Revolution had a good chance to open the scoring in the 15th minute when speedy Gambian striker Kenny Mansally dashed up the left flank and hit a great cross into the heart of the FC Dallas area. Wells Thompson was on the receiving end but didn't get much on it and his header went wide right.  But the best chance of the opening frame for either side came in the 23rd minute on a corner kick from Dax McCarty. Waiting at the right post was Hoops midfielder Juan Toja, who returned to the starting 11 after missing Sunday's 2-0 win at Chivas USA.

Toja got a foot on the ball and hit a blast toward the far side of the net but New England goalkeeper Matt Reis dove through the air and made a great play to keep the match scoreless.  The Revolution again threatened late in the half. In the 43rd minute, Shalrie Joseph found Adam Cristman open with a great cross from the right side, but Cristman's header didn't have much on it and Sala was there for the save.

Just before the first half whistle, Mansally found some room but shot the ball wide left. New England had eight shots in the opening half, four of which were on frame. FCD had just four shots with only one of those being on goal.  With a depleted team due to injuries, New England head coach Steve Nicol went with a 4-4-2 formation. Chris Albright, Jeff Larentowicz, who had their only goal in a 1-1 draw at New York last Saturday and Gambian speedster Sainey Nyassi all didn't make the trip for the Revs.

With two of his starters from last Saturday unavailable in Larentowicz and Nyassi, Nicol plugged in Chase Hilgenbrinck, who was making his first career MLS start, and Thompson in the Revs midfield to replace them.  FC Dallas head coach Steve Morrow made just one change to his team from last week. In Sunday's win, the Hoops played a 3-4-3 with Brazilian forward Ricardinho up top alongside Arturo Alvarez and Kenny Cooper. Morrow went back to a 3-5-2 with Toja available and he played in his familiar spot, as a high midfielder just behind Alvarez and Cooper.

After the break, FC Dallas had the early play. In the 51st minute, Andre Rocha stepped up and hit a great free kick that sailed just to the right of the New England goal. Then in the 53rd minute an attempt by Toja was hit right at Matt Reis and the veteran 'keeper corralled the ball for another easy stop.  But the Revolution began to come back with a vengeance. In the 67th minute a shot by Thompson was deflected and then saved by Sala. And only seconds after, Smith shot one high for the visitors.

A shot by Joseph in the 69th minute to draw first blood was deflected but the Revolution's best chance before their goal came a minute later. Midfielder Gary Flood had possession on the left side and saw Jay Heaps streaking toward the goal in the middle of the Hoops box. Flood found Heaps as he rolled a pass back to the top of the six, but with an open goal gaping Heaps sent his shot over the bar.  Still it was the Revolution who found the back of the net first, the first goal Dallas had allowed in 252 minutes, and it came from Smith's right foot, instead of his usually favored left, as he cut across the edge of the box.

The Hoops had their chances for the equalizer. From yet another corner, Dax McCarty sent a great ball into the box that was headed by Drew Moor but went wide left.  Then in the 86th, from another McCarty corner, Rocha got his head on the end of it near the right post but Reis came up with a huge save at close range to preserve the clean sheet for the Revs.  There was two final chances in the four minutes of stoppage time. Another FC Dallas corner was cleared out and substitute Pablo Ricchetti nearly connected from almost 30 yards out with a full-blooded volley but it went to the left of goal.   Then just before the final whistle, McCarty sent in a free kick about 25 yards from the New England goal. With all 11 Dallas players forward, Hoops defender Duilio Davino got his head on the ball but it went to the right of goal.   New England is off until next Saturday, when they will play host to Chicago at Gillette Stadium. The Hoops will also have some time to recuperate as they won't take the field again until on May 3 when they travel to San Jose.

Label: FC Dallas, MLS soccer, New England soccer, Khano Smith
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