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Avila lifts FC Dallas past Real Salt Lake

Oct 30, 2010 - 11:33 PM FRISCO, Texas (AP) -- Eric Avila scored in the 88th minute and FC Dallas beat defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake 2-1 on Saturday in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals.

Avila took a pass from David Ferreira and dribbled past two Salt Lake defenders before converting from 15 yards away, into the left corner of the net. Avila was a late substitute for Jair Benitez, entering the game in the 87th minute.

Real Salt Lake had its unbeaten streak snapped at 14 games and is 0-9-0 all-time at Pizza Hut Park. The second part of the two-game aggregate goal series is next Saturday at Salt Lake.

Fabian Espindola got Real Salt Lake off to a nice start. He fired a left-footed shot from inside the top of the penalty box into the left corner of the net, making it 1-0 in the fifth minute.

FC Dallas responded in the 44th minute when Jeff Cunningham took control of a ball that deflected off Real Salt Lake defender Jamison Olave at the top of the goalie's box and fired a left-footed shot into the left corner of the net. Cunningham entered in the 32nd minute after forward Milton Rodriguez left with a right groin injury.

Both teams picked up red cards in a span of six minutes in the second half. Real Salt Lake's Javier Morales picked up his second yellow card for kicking Dax McCarty in the chest in the 69th minute and FC Dallas' Atiba Harris got a red card after he elbowed Will Johnson in the 75th minute. Both Harris and Morales will miss the second game of the series.