for this game

Cunningham scores 16th as FC Dallas downs Revs

Oct 1, 2009 - 2:12 AM By AMIT KALUSKAR STATS MLS Correspondent

DALLAS (STATS)- Maybe it took a new setting for FC Dallas to finally get a breakthrough defensive performance, but a 71st-minute goal from Jeff Cunningham and a defense that allowed only two shots on goal led to a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution on Wednesday night.

"For us to get a 1-0 win that doesn't happen," Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said. "Our defense always lets us down at the most inappropriate times, but this is a step in the right direction."

The game played at the Cotton Bowl was the first match of a doubleheader, with the second game an international friendly between Mexico and Columbia. FC Dallas played at the Cotton Bowl from 1996-2002 and 2004-2005 before moving to Pizza Hut Park in August 2005.

FC Dallas entered the game with 43 goals allowed, tied for second-most in the MLS, but has posted consecutive shutouts for the second time this season. Dallas also blanked Kansas City and Houston on Aug. 1 and Aug. 6, respectively.

"We struggled tonight," New England's Sainey Nyassi said. "They dominated us at midfield."

New England (10-9-7) remained on 37 points, good for third in the Eastern Conference and eighth in the MLS. The top two teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs and the next four teams with the highest overall point totals receive wild-card berths.

The Revolution are 1-3-1 in their last five matches and struggled without playmaking midfielder Steve Ralston, who sustained a season-ending knee injury Saturday against Seattle FC.

"Tonight we didn't create any chances," Revolution forward Kheli Dube said. " It's going to be hard to get goals (with Ralston out)."

FC Dallas (9-12-6) - currently 12th overall - still has an outside chance at the playoffs with 33 points and three matches remaining.

"We still have games we can win and we still have a chance to get in," Dallas defender Ugo Ihemelu said. "We just have to keep playing our game."

Cunningham scored his MLS-leading 16th goal, which puts him one ahead of Colorado's Conor Casey. Atiba Harris started the scoring sequence with a cross to Jair Benitez, who directed the ball to Cunningham. The striker then headed a shot into the left corner of the net from the top of the 6-yard box.

"I'm not known to score too many with my head," Cunningham said of the goal. "It was a good cross and I re-directed into the net."

Dallas forward Dave van den Bergh, who has a team-best 10 assists, left in the 26th minute because of a right ankle injury.

"I felt like this was a playoff type game," Cunningham said. "Their defenders were organized and didn't give many chances. There weren't many good looks for both teams."

Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis finished the game with five saves while FC Dallas goalie Dario Sala made two.