By JOSE M. ROMERO
FC Dallas is as good a team as there is in MLS when things are clicking and a legitimate contender to return to the MLS Cup final at this point. Just ask the Portland Timbers.
FCD ruined former star Kenny Cooper's return to Pizza Hut Park with a 4-0 victory over Portland, featuring goals from Zach Loyd, George John, Brek Shea and Ruben Luna and a pair of corner-kick assists from Daniel Hernandez. Jackson also had a big game for Dallas, pacing the attack with five shots on numerous runs into the porous Timbers defense.
FCD (9-4-4) is firmly in second place in the MLS Western Conference at 31 points, while the struggling Timbers are in a serious funk with four losses in their last five matches and just 18 points, good for seventh in the conference.
The Timbers dropped to 5-7-3 and are winless in seven road contests.
As if the six players with major contributions weren't enough, goalkeeper Kevin Hartman recorded his league-leading eighth shutout.
Jackson made his presence felt early. The Brazilian defender-midfielder clanged a shot off the cross bar in the 18th minute. He would be heard from again and again.
FC Dallas has six goals between the 16th and 30th minutes of games this season, according to its broadcast crew, but didn't score until the 34th minute Saturday. Hernandez's corner went through Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins' hands and right onto Loyd's head far post, and the defender picked up his first career goal.
Hernandez was close to another corner assist in the 37th minute but his pass to Shea for the shot was saved. Shea earned a corner kick in the 38th minute, and FCD made it pay off.
Hernandez lofted another beauty toward the middle of the box, where John met the ball after blowing past Cooper in the box. John scored his second goal of the season.
"Daniel just put it right on the money," Loyd said at halftime.
FC Dallas wasn't through making forays into the Portland defense. In the 58th minute, Jackson passed to Eric Alexander for a shot that went wide and off the post. The rebound came out to Shea for the easy cleanup to make it 3-0.
For all his hard work, Jackson thought he had a goal in the 85th minute. His long shot went off Perkins' hands, bounced downward and was oh so close to going over the goal line. Luna rushed in to knock it into the goal.
The Timbers, who had coach John Spencer back on the bench after a one-game suspension, have now gone 205 minutes without an away goal.