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FC Dallas blanks Toronto FC on penalty kicks

Sep 9, 2007 - 4:23 AM By Ken Costlow PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

FRISCO, Texas (Ticker) - The fortunes of FC Dallas and Toronto FC continued to be polar opposites of each other Saturday night at Pizza Hut Park.

With neither team able to find the back of the net in regular play, the result came down to two penalty kicks that FC Dallas converted to post a 2-0 victory over Toronto. The shutout extended Toronto's MLS-record scoreless streak to 732 minutes, a span of eight games.

Denilson and Abe Thompson converted both penalty kicks to keep FC Dallas (12-8-3) in the thick of the Western Conference chase, while Toronto (5-13-5) remained in the cellar of the Eastern Conference.

FC Dallas head coach Steve Morrow was less than thrilled with his team's overall performance, but nonetheless happy to get away with all three points from the victory.

"It's often the sign of a good team when you don't play your best game and still get the three points and keep a clean sheet. We're happy with that," Morrow said. "We didn't move the ball around as well as we wanted, but they (Toronto) make it very hard for you as well. They're a very direct team and we didn't cope with it very well early on in the game.

"We had a little trouble picking up second balls, as well. We talked about that at halftime and I thought we would do a little bit better. I just thought it was a night where we needed to keep the ball better and we didn't do that."

Toronto had done a remarkable job of keeping the FC Dallas attack at bay for the first half-hour of the first half, but a foul in the 18-yard box in the 34th minute led to the opening goal of the match.

Thompson managed to race past the Toronto back four entering the attacking third. As Thompson charged into the box, Tyrone Marshall caught up to him and brought him down to concede a penalty kick and draw a yellow card from referee Hilario Grajeda.

"My job is to make open runs and make the center back do more thinking than he would have if those runs are not being made," Thompson said. "With guys like Juan (Toja), Arturo (Alvarez) and Denilson out there, they all have great vision and are able to see me in."

On the ensuing penalty kick, Denilson recorded his first MLS goal, sending a soft shot off the inside left post to put FC Dallas on top, 1-0.

Denilson said he is getting more and comfortable with his surroundings and the cohesion he is striving for with his new teammates.

"Winning the game was the most important thing," Denilson said. "What I need to do is get more time in the games. That is what I've been looking for, and the coaches have been getting me 90 minutes in each game. That is very important in getting me back into match fitness. It gives me a lot of confidence to keep working."

In the 79th minute, Toronto's Andrea Lombardo missed a chance to draw the teams even, going 1-on-1 with FC Dallas goalkeeper Dario Sala after beating two defenders, but his attempt at the goal sailed long and wide. It was typical of the frustration he and his teammates experienced the entire night.

Seven minutes later, Toronto's Joey Melo, an 18-year-old substitute, brought down FC Dallas' Dominic Oduro in the penalty area and was booked on the spot. Thompson then converted the subsequent penalty kick to seal the victory for his team.

"I've got no qualms about how we played," Toronto head coach Mo Johnston said. "It was disappointing and I feel like we should be going back with a point, but at the end of the day, it was just not to be for us.

"I feel bad for (our players). I think the effort and the way they performed were definitely there. I was happy with that part. It's a cruel game sometimes."

FC Dallas played without two regulars that were injured in last Tuesday's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal victory over the Seattle Sounders. Forward Carlos Ruiz sat out with an injured right knee, and defender Clarence Goodson was sidelined with a concussion.

"(Carlos) came off a tough game on Tuesday where he played over 100 minutes on turf," Morrow said. "He's had a little niggling problem with his knee off and on for the last couple of months. I figured I needed to give him a little bit of a break.

"I've got to keep looking at the big picture. We have a deep roster and we want everyone fit and available for the important matches at the end of the season."

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    Sep 8 10:32 PM

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