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Dallas Soccer News - MLS, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Juan Toja, Carlos Ruiz, Alex Yi, Bouna Coundoul, Dario Sala

Toja, FC Dallas edge Colorado Rapids 1-0

Published 6/23/2007 11:23:41 PM by staff from mlsnet.com
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FC Dallas wrapped up their three-game road trip with a 1-0 victory on Saturday night over the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.  Colombian Juan Toja scored his third game-winning goal of the season for the Hoops to solidify FCD's position atop the Western Conference. For the Rapids, the loss was their fourth in a row as the club has not earned a single point in the month of June.

Toja provided all the offense that FC Dallas would need as his easy finish on a rebound in the 62nd minute helped his club quickly get back into form after suffering a 4-0 loss at the hands of Toronto FC a week prior. Insult was added to injury for the Rapids when Ugo Ihemelu was sent off deep into stoppage time for a late and dangerous challenge on David Wagenfuhr.

While the visitors would eventually run home with the points, it was the home side that produced the game's first worthwhile attack. Conor Casey made a run into the right side of FCD's penalty area six minutes after kickoff, but Alex Yi made a quick recovery to apply the tackle and clear the danger.  Just a minute later, FCD's Carlos Ruiz got his first look at the target when he received a ball in the penalty area from Toja. After turning and facing goal, Ruiz saw his shot blocked before it could trouble Rapids goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.

However, the Senegalese native was called into action at the quarter-hour mark after some dicey play from his defense. Ihemelu was retreating toward his own net after a long ball over the top and he attempted to head the ball back to Coundoul, who was creeping off his line to snag the ball. Ihemelu's header nearly sailed over his own goalkeeper and into the open net, but an athletic maneuver from Coundoul kept the teams scoreless.

At the other end of the field Herculez Gomez had a decent chance to give the home side an advantage just before the half-hour mark. Coundoul's long clearance was flicked on and Gomez's chip attempt over an onrushing Dario Sala bounced a couple of yards wide of the mark.  Colorado suffered a blow when coach Fernando Clavijo was forced to go to his bench in the 37th minute as Casey pulled up with a hamstring injury. Uruguayan Jose Cancela stepped on to replace him, sending Jovan Kirovski further forward to join Gomez up front.  Only a fine save from FCD's Dario Sala preserved the draw heading into the break, Gomez firing the best look at either goal in the opening stanza in stoppage time. His run parallel to the top of the box ended with a vicious shot from the right side that the Argentinean parried over the crossbar.

After the break Colorado went right back on the attack and the Rapids won a free kick in a dangerous position when Gomez was bundled over by Clarence Goodson. Terry Cooke served in a curling ball on the ensuing set piece, which Kyle Beckerman met with a flashing header. Kirovski was inches away from adding a finishing touch but he couldn't make contact and the ball whistled past the far post.  It was then that the Hoops jumped out to a lead, and once again it was Toja hitting the net for Dallas. A cross from the left made it all the way across the field to Ruiz, who dropped the ball back to Goodson for a shot on goal. Coundoul was able to stop the defender's effort, but Toja was on hand to poke the rebound home from inside the six-yard box.  Cancela had a good opportunity to bring the teams back to level terms after earning a free kick some 25 yards from goal. He wasted the chance himself, though, lashing his free kick well high and wide.

Seconds later FCD could have effectively put the game on ice as Ruiz was sent in alone, beating the offside trap to latch onto a through ball from Arturo Alvarez. But as Ruiz danced on the ball and failed to make a decision which way to go, Coundoul held his ground and picked the ball off of the Guatemalan's feet.  Goodson earned a yellow card 12 minutes from time when he again pulled down Gomez just wide of the penalty area. Greg Vanney struck the free kick the followed right at Sala, who punched the ball away to safety.

Ruiz had another chance to kill the game in the 84th minute when FCD won the ball in Colorado's defensive end. His shot from the top of the box had plenty of sting on it, but Coundoul was perfectly placed to easily handle it.  Gomez had one final chance to save a point for Colorado in stoppage time but his half-volley from the top of the box whistled inches wide of the right post. Ihemelu then let his frustrations show as he flew into a tackle on Wagenfuhr near the sideline as the Rapids lost both the game and their starting center back.

Label: MLS, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Juan Toja, Carlos Ruiz, Alex Yi, Bouna Coundoul, Dario Sala
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