Cooper lifts FC Dallas past FireJun 15, 2008 - 10:56 PM
FRISCO, Texas (Ticker) -- With the temperature and heat index soaring into triple digits, FC Dallas was in need of a good result against a club that it has had little trouble keeping the heat on over the years.
At the conclusion of the match, that's exactly what it got.
Kenny Cooper's early first-half goal proved to be the difference as FC Dallas blanked the Chicago Fire, 1-0, at Pizza Hut Park on Sunday.
It was FC Dallas' 10th win in its last 11 home matches against Chicago, with the other result being a draw. The victory snapped a three-game winless spell for FC Dallas, which won for just the second time in nine games.
"This has been a long time coming," FC Dallas interim coach Marco Ferruzzi said. "The team performed exceptionally today. We had a great work rate in difficult conditions. We had a lot of chances to score and kept plugging away."
Cooper scored in the 17th minute, taking advantage of a counter-attack down the middle of the field.
Andre Rocha slid a through-ball to Cooper, who had beaten Chicago defender Bakary Soumare. Cooper then blasted a right-footed shot from the top of the arc that sailed past goalkeeper Jon Busch to net FC Dallas the lead. It was Cooper's fourth goal in as many career games against Chicago.
"When we're on the field, I have so much confidence in (Rocha's) ability to play and pass, and I've been fortunate to be on the end of some of those great balls," Cooper said of his midfield teammate. "Today, he fed me right in."
Dallas (4-5-4) had many chances to add to its lead, outshooting Chicago, 20-11, but Busch did well to keep it a one-goal game by making nine saves.
Just over the 30-minute mark, Rocha sent a right-footed blast of his own toward the right side of the Chicago net, but Busch deflected it around the right post for a corner kick at the last second.
Chicago (6-4-1) mustered its lone shot on goal in the first half in the 38th minute, but Chad Barrett's weak chip shot from 15 yards out was easily handled by FC Dallas keeper Dario Sala.
FC Dallas striker Dominic Oduro had a opportunity to double his team's advantage right before halftime, but he missed high over the crossbar on a running attempt from the left side within 10 yards of the goal.
Midway through the second half, Chicago had three chances to net the equalizer, but failed in all three attempts. Justin Mapp had a twisting left-footer from 20 yards out was saved by Sala in the 67th minute. Mapp then missed just wide of the right post three minutes later before exiting the game.
"To our credit in the second half, I thought we had a better idea as far as pushing and getting the ball on the ground," Chicago coach Denis Hamlett said. "We created a couple of chances, but just weren't clinical in the final third. We gave up some chances after that, but that's going to happen when you push the game to get the equalizer."
In the 73rd minute, Cuauhtemoc Blanco sent a free kick into the box to Soumare, but the Mali native headed the ball high over the bar at the right post.
Busch was then called upon to make four crucial saves in the waning moments of the match. Three of them came on shots from Oduro, including a header right at the edge of the goal area in the 84th minute.
FC Dallas employed a five-man midfield in an attempt to neutralize Blanco and, at times, the play seemed to get extremely physical against the dangerous Chicago midfielder. Blanco was fouled six times and managed only one shot in the entire game.
"I'm used to (being fouled a lot)," Blanco said. "But the referees need to watch out for it, because that's becoming a planned strategy, fouling me in the middle so much. They need to be aware that it is going on."
Sala finished with three saves for his fourth shutout of the campaign, helping Dallas snap a two-game skid and lifting the team to just its second win in nine games.
The loss dropped the Fire to 4-1-1 on the road this season.
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