Dallas Soccer DFW

FC Dallas lays a whoopin on Chicago

Published 9/21/2008 5:26:47 PM by staff from dallas

Led by a pair of goals from Jeff Cunningham, FC Dallas scored three first-half goals against the stingiest defense in the league on the way to a convincing 4-1 road win against the Chicago Fire Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park.   FC Dallas became the first team to score three goals against the Fire this season. The Fire had given up just 20 goals in their first 24 games.

The victory ended a five game winless streak for FC Dallas, which jumped out of the cellar in the MLS Western Conference into fifth place with 30 points. The Fire remain in third place in the Eastern Conference with 38 points, nine points behind the New England Revolution.  Each of the Hoops' first three goals was significant beyond adding to the total on the scoreboard.

Cunningham scored in the game's second minute when a free kick by Andre Rocha squirted through a crowd in the box and Cunningham poked it past diving Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch. Cunningham celebrated the goal by miming rocking a baby in his arms, to signify the birth of his first child last week. The goal was Cunningham's 17th against the Fire in his long MLS career. It was the sixth of the season overall for Cunningham, obtained a few weeks from Toronto FC.

Another free kick by Rocha led to the second goal, when his kick from 25 yards out far right lofted over the crowd in the box and landed at the right foot of Aaron Pitchkolan, who fired the ball to the far right corner while Busch was heading to his right toward Pitchkolan. It was Pitchkolan's first goal of the season.   The third goal was the real shocker, as Cunningham dribbled the ball off a FC Dallas counterattack down the left side, then sent it from 25 yards out to the far right side, where midfielder Bruno Guarda one-timed it out of the air to the upper right side of the goal for a 3-0 Hoops lead.

The victory was the third in the last 12 games for Dallas under coach Schellas Hyndman, who took over in June for fired coach Steve Morrow. Earlier this week, Dallas general manager Michael Hitchcock reiterated his intention to retain Hyndman for next season.

The game had some decidedly chippy moments. In the first half, Guarda and Fire defender Gonzalo Segares mixed it up, with Segares putting Guarda down with a retaliatory shove. In the 55th minute, Marcelo Saragosa of FC Dallas received a yellow card for a tackle from behind on Fire substitute Justin Mapp.

In the 53rd minute, FC Dallas came close to going ahead 4-0 when forward Kenny Cooper blasted a shot from 25 yards out that went over Busch's head and hit the upper right corner of the post and bounced away.   In the 61st minute, Cunningham got his second goal of the game, and his second chance to celebrate the birth of his child. Rocha sent a long clearance forward putting Cunningham in a foot race with Fire defender Lider Marmol to the ball. Cunningham had a step on Marmol, who shouted at Busch to come out, but Cunningham got to the ball first and had an easy shot past Busch for his seventh goal of the season.

In the 70th minute, Cooper missed a shot at a wide-open net. A goal kick by Dallas keeper Dario Sala was headed downfield by defender Adrian Serioux past the Fire defense to Cooper on the right side. Busch came out to cut off Cooper's shot, but the veteran Dallas forward dribbled past Busch. But his  shot went wide right.   Seconds away from a shutout, the Fire finally got on the scorebaoard in stoppage time on a goal by Brian McBride, who headed home a cross from Justin Mapp.

The Fire remain home for an MLS Primetime Thursday match against the Los Angeles Galaxy, while FC Dallas also heads home for a match next Sunday against DC United.

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