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FC Dallas - Chicago Fire ready for Primetime

Published 5/17/2007 8:21:21 AM by staff from mlsnet.com
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ESPN Primetime Thursday makes its first visit to Toyota Park for the first Brimstone Cup meeting of the season, as FC Dallas comes to Bridgeview to take on the Chicago Fire. The Fire return home after dropping back-to-back 3-1 decisions on the road, first at New England then last weekend at Toronto.

FC Dallas came off a two-week layoff last weekend and rebounded from back-to-back 1-0 home shutouts with a victory in Kansas City against the Wizards.

FC Dallas returned to action after two weeks off and ended a two-game losing skid, going to Kansas City and coming away with a 2-1 victory against the Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium. FC Dallas are now in second place in the Western Conference with 10 points from seven matches, a point behind the Colorado Rapids.

• The Wizards came in riding a three-game winning streak where they hadn't allowed a goal for 307 minutes, while FC Dallas were returning following a two-week layoff after having lost back-to-back 1-0 decisions at home.
• But by halftime, the Hoops were two goals to the good. In the 19th minute, from a throw-in, Dax McCarty hooked a cross into the area where Kenny Cooper rose up and acrobatically sent a looping snap header toward goal. Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman could only flap at it and it sailed over him into the far corner.
• Then in stoppage time before the break, Ramon Nunez swung in a big cross from the right touchline. Juan Toja came racing in ahead of his defender, and after a touch while falling, sent a rolling shot past Hartman to double the FCD lead.
• Dario Sala, making his start after a six-match ban to open the season, had a remarkable night, making nine saves. He nearly held out for the clean sheet, but into second-half added time, Michael Harrington rose up to flick home a free kick for the second goal of his rookie season, but it wasn't enough for Kansas City.
• FC Dallas head coach Steve Morrow made four changes to the team that lost 1-0 to New England on April 29. Dario Sala came off his suspension to make his 2007 debut in goal, while Alex Yi returned from injury to come back into central defense, Drew Moor moving to right back as Bobby Rhine went back to the substitutes' bench. Pablo Ricchetti made his MLS debut, coming into the heart of the midfield for Aaron Pitchkolan, and Abe Thompson made his first start of the year, coming to attack in place of Carlos Ruiz.
• Here's Morrow's team (4-3-1-2): Dario Sala - Drew Moor, Clarence Goodson, Alex Yi, Chris Gbandi, Dax McCarty (Bobby Rhine 84), Pablo Ricchetti, Juan Toja - Ramon Nunez (Marcelo Saragosa 74) - Kenny Cooper (Carlos Ruiz 73), Abe Thompson. Substitutes Not Used: Arturo Alvarez, Shaka Hislop, Dominic Oduro, Blake Wagner
• "I thought it was a good team performance. We defended well when we had to. If I'm going to be critical, I thought we could have kept the ball better at times. They put us under a lot of pressure the first 10-15 minutes of the game, but for the rest of the first half and for periods of the game we moved the ball well," Morrow said.

• Of course, the man of the match was goalkeeper Dario Sala, who made nine saves in his return to action following the suspension to begin the season.
• "He came up with some great saves. That's what we've come to expect of Dario. At times when you need your goalkeeper to come up big and make big saves, he did it for us tonight," Morrow said. "I thought he made three or four really, really big saves and kept us in the game."
• Still, Morrow said the entire team effort defensively was a good one. Harrington's stoppage-time goal spoiled the bid for what would have been the first shutout of the season.
• "I thought they did well defensively. Eddie Johnson and [Yura] Movsisyan both played very well and were a big test for us tonight, and Davy Arnaud played well too," Morrow said. "I thought it was a really big test for the back four, and I was really disappointed to not get a clean sheet to be honest. I thought our defensive performance over 90 minutes deserved a clean sheet." • Also making his MLS debut was Pablo Ricchetti, who finally secured his work permit in the two weeks between FCD's last game and the trip to Kansas City.
• "I thought he did very well, and I think he's a long way away from full fitness. It's his first game for us and he hasn't played for a couple of months and I think he showed what a good player he's going to be. He's very good in possession, passed the ball well at times for us, and I think he's only going to get better when he gets more fit," Morrow said. "I think he held his own. I didn't expect him to play 90 minutes in his first game, and I even questioned whether I would start him or leave him on the bench tonight. He's a naturally fit guy and wanted to play 90 minutes and I thought he got through it well."
• There was another debutante: forward Abe Thompson, making his first start of 2007 after Carlos Ruiz started the game on the bench after missing two practices earlier in the week.
• "I lot of credit to Abe Thompson. We know what he gives us and he's deserved his chance cause he's worked very,very hard at practice and in reserve games as well," Morrow said. "Every time we play him we know what we're going to get, he's very reliable, he works very, very hard for the team, and he holds the ball up very well for us. I'm just very pleased for him because he deserved his chance and he took it well."
• While Ruiz went a fifth consecutive appearance without scoring after coming on for the final 17 minutes, Morrow was pleased with his effort.
• "He did a good job when he came on. I wanted him to come on and hold the ball. Kenny (Cooper) worked hard for the first hour of the game, and I thought he got a bit tired and his touch started to go a little bit and I thought it made sense to get Carlos on," Morrow said. "For him to help us as a team, hold the ball, I thought he did well."

Label: FC Dallas, Chicago Fire, MLS,
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