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Late FC Dallas Goal Forces Draw At BMO
April 12, 2009, 8:25 AM
Filed under: FC Dallas, Toronto FC

A late goal from Pablo Ricchetti forced Toronto FC to settle for a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas on Saturday at BMO Field.

Dwayne De Rosario’s 17th-minute header looked like it might stand up for the Reds, who were kept in the game due to a tremendous performance from rookie goalkeeper Stefan Frei. But, in the end, the Reds finished with their second draw of the season as they are still searching for their first home victory of 2009. Dallas, meanwhile, picked up its first point of the season after an 0-3 start.

Toronto head coach John Carver promised some changes in the wake of TFC’s disappointing 2-0 loss to Seattle last week, and indeed the starting XI against FCD had a different look. Frei was back between the posts, while Dwayne De Rosario was moved up front since Sam Cronin and Fuad Ibrahim started in place of Rohan Ricketts and Pablo Vitti. Dallas, meanwhile, made no changes from the lineup that dropped a 2-1 result to New England last Saturday.

The changes almost paid off within the very first minute, as Ibrahim sent a cross in that De Rosario just barely got a piece of on the right side of the net. De Rosario’s tap was enough to send the ball slowly dribbling towards the open Dallas net, but FCD defender George John managed to beat a charging Chad Barrett and slid to clear the ball with just an inch to spare.

Six minutes later, Barrett was able to get a shot off of an Amado Guevara free kick, but this time it was Dallas goalkeeper Ray Burse who was able to make a close-range save and thwart the TFC striker.

FCD generated some attack of their own that required some effort from Frei. The rookie ‘keeper was making his first appearance since suffering a back injury against Columbus on March 28 and having to be substituted at the half. Frei was tested in the 13th minute, when Dallas midfielder Andre Rocha curved a well-aimed volley towards the upper-left corner of the net that required Frei to leap for his first save of the match.

It was the Reds who drew first blood, however, thanks to an all-Scarborough, Ontario scoring connection. Adrian Serioux, playing his first game against FCD since being dealt last February, had a mighty throw-in in the 17th minute that sailed into the penalty area. The toss was met by Serioux’s fellow Torontonian De Rosario, who headed the ball into the net for his first goal as a member of Toronto FC.

Both teams roughly split the possession time in the first half, but the difference was that FCD made the most of its opportunities by generating a scoring chance almost every time they had the ball deep in the Toronto end. Frei showed good poise on collecting a tricky bouncing shot from Rocha just after the De Rosario goal for the second of four saves made by the ‘keeper in the first half-hour of the game.

TFC, meanwhile, weren’t quite as efficient with their possession, though they did threaten to add to their lead. Ibrahim had a shot sail wide in the 21st minute, Carl Robinson ran a step too far past a centering pass in the 29th and after a deflected Guevara kick caught the crossbar and bounced directly back to Barrett in the penalty area, the striker’s follow-up shot flew to the left of the net.

The half that began with a close call ended with another, this time at the TFC end. Dave van den Bergh sent in a cross that Dax McCarty headed off of the crossbar and bounced directly downwards. The ball landed outside of the goal line by a fraction of an inch and bounced out into Frei’s arms. A few Dallas players even raised their arms thinking that the ball had landed a few millimeters in the other direction.

The game’s exciting, back-and-forth pace continued into the second half. Dallas just missed the equalizer in the 47th minute when Andre Rocha fired a hard shot within the penalty area that just barely went wide. On the counterattack, Toronto fullback Marvell Wynne made some nifty moves to create space on the left side, but his cross attempt was cut off by a diving Burse.

Toronto’s back line was hard-pressed to keep Dallas from finding space, as the shot total stood at 11-6 for the visitors after 53 minutes. But Frei stood his ground as TFC’s last line of defense. He stopped a hard strike from Dallas star forward Kenny Cooper in the 53rd minute, and then made another save in the 67th off of a shot from van den Bergh created after a nice flick pass from Cooper down the left side.

The second half saw both sides begin to play the substitution game. Danny Dichio and Rohan Ricketts came into the game for Barrett and Ibrahim, while Dallas replaced Rocha and Michael Dello-Russo with Eric Avila and Jeff Cunningham, with the latter playing his first game at BMO Field after being traded to FCD last August.

The new players led to some excitement for the dormant Toronto attack, as Dichio had a shot in the 75th minute following a corner. But it was FCD which kept up the pressure as well a minute later, as only a last-second Wynne clearance prevented Cunningham from a quick goal in his return game.

In the 88th minute, the Reds were finally broken down. A McCarty corner kick sailed to the right of the net and was collected by Avila, who centered the ball in front of the net. Amidst the bodies gathered in the goalmouth, it was Dallas captain Pablo Ricchetti who managed to get a back-heel kick that found the back of the net. It was the first goal of the season for Ricchetti and the first for any Dallas player besides Cooper in 2009.

The Reds and the Hoops won’t have to wait long for a rematch, as the two teams will meet again next Sunday at Pizza Hut Park.

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