Dallas Soccer DFW

Late Penalty Helps FC Dallas Salvage Draw

Published 10/3/2008 6:35:45 AM by staff from dallas

A controversial late penalty kick helped FC Dallas salvage a crucial point at home as they drew 1-1 with San Jose last night after Ryan Johnson had put San Jose ahead in the 58th minute.  While the word "homecoming" is rarely used in conjunction with soccer, Thursday's match pitting FC Dallas and the San Jose Earthquakes was a welcome back of sorts for forward Arturo Alvarez.   Acquired from FC Dallas on July 28, Alvarez was in the starting lineup for the Earthquakes in the two sides' Western Conference battle that ended in a 1-1 draw after Kenny Cooper scored on a penalty kick in the 89th minute.

Goalkeeper Dario Sala finished with three saves for FC Dallas (8-9-10), which moved into a three-way tie with Colorado (10-12-4) and Real Salt Lake (9-10-7) for third place in the Western Conference. FC Dallas is 5-4-6 at Pizza Hut Park this season.   Ryan Johnson tallied in the 58th minute and goalkeeper Joe Cannon made three saves for San Jose (7-10-9), which continues to struggle on the road. The Earthquakes are 2-6-5 away from home this campaign.   With San Jose nursing a 1-0 advantage, midfielder Francisco Lima was called for a handball in the box. Cooper was summoned to take the penalty kick and expertly placed the ball just inside the left goalpost for his 16th tally of the season. He trails only Los Angeles' Landon Donovan, who has 19 goals.

"I didn't see it; I just heard the whistle blow," Cooper said of the call. "I'm still not exactly sure what happened.   You try not to get frustrated and keep pushing and pushing. A lot of times, there are goals at the very end. You have to give credit to our team because the last couple of games, we've been battling right to the end."

The call left the Earthquakes players livid, and San Jose head coach Frank Yallop was not in a much better mood after the contest.   Yallop and his players all claimed the ball hit Lima in the chest, not the hand or arm.   Even though replays showed Lima with arm extended and the ball hitting his arm.  Nonetheless, it was still a harsh decision.

"Yeah, I'm a little disappointed," Yallop said. "We had it in our hands to win, and two poor decisions by the referee change the game around. The ball didn't hit Lima in the hand; it didn't hit anywhere on his arm. It's difficult enough this time of the season to come in here and get a win."

After entering the game in favor of Ronnie O'Brien in the 57th minute, Johnson chased down a short ball from defender Jason Hernandez, dribbled down the right wing and tapped his shot past Sala for his fifth goal of the season.

"I'm more of a physical player and I like to shake up the defense," Johnson said. "My main purpose in getting there is to work hard, make a difference and change the game a little bit. And that's what I did today. These next four games, we have to win, so we need to be ready."

FC Dallas nearly had a chance at an equalizer two minutes later when Jeff Cunningham was brought down in the box, but no foul was called and the Earthquakes escaped with a counterattack.  While the tension of the playoff chase was reflected in the play on the pitch, both sides had moderate attempts at the first goal in the opening 45 minutes.

Eleven minutes into the match, FC Dallas' Marcelo Saragosa missed wide of the right post on a header off a corner kick from Andre Rocha.   In the 20th minute, O'Brien, another former FC Dallas player, hit the side netting on a cross from midfielder Darren Huckerby. Huckerby then had a shot of his own in the 34th minute, but Sala got a hand on it at the last second to concede a corner kick.  FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman was relieved to secure at lease one point - rather than come away empty, with every point at a premium down the home stretch.

"It was a fast-paced game. In fact, I think it was too fast," Hyndman said. "Both teams knew the importance of this game, and I thought there were a lot of counterattack balls on both sides. It was what you would expect two teams trying to get into the playoffs to look like."

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