By IVES GALARCEP
FC Dallas couldn’t have asked for a better scenario heading into Saturday’s showdown vs. defending MLS champions Los Angeles Galaxy. Bruce Arena chose to rest Robbie Keane, Todd Dunivant and Juninho, and a crowd of more than 20,000 FC Dallas fans showed up to root on a Dallas team that has been one of the league’s most pleasant surprises.
Everything was set up for a special night, but for 86 minutes it looked like the Galaxy might be able to escape Frisco, Texas with a point. Then George John came up with yet another big play in what has been a dream start to the season, out-hustling Omar Gonzalez on a corner kick and heading home a loose ball for the winning goal in an eventual 1-0 victory over the Galaxy.
John’s game-winning goal, and the ensuing celebration was marred by an ugly incident immediately after the goal, when an FC Dallas fan threw a beer bottle toward the field that struck John in the back of the head as he was just beginning to celebrate. John suffered a cut that required five staples, though it didn’t force him to leave the match.
According to reports from FC Dallas Stadium, the perpetrator was apprehended.
The win improved FC Dallas to 4-1-1 on the season and extended their lead atop the West to six points.
The match saw a pair of penalty kicks awarded, with both teams seeing penalties saved. Kenny Cooper had his PK saved by Carlo Cudicini after referee Baldomero Toledo issued a red card to Galaxy defender Leonardo for a foul on Blas Perez in the penalty area. Cudicini made a quality save to deny Cooper, but the Galaxy still figured to struggle being down a man for the final 30 minutes of the match.
Los Angeles almost took the lead in the 69th minute when John was called for a foul on Jose Villarreal in the penalty area. Replays showed that Villarreal appeared to dive to earn the call. Landon Donovan had his penalty kick saved by Raul Fernandez, to keep the match scoreless.
The two sides played a fairly even first half, with Los Angeles Galaxy rookie left back Greg Cochrane turning in an impressive performance in place of Todd Dunivant. Neither side really got going though and the real action didn’t start until the second half.
The loss drops the Galaxy eight points behind FC Dallas, though the defending MLS Cup champions have two games in hand. They return to action on Saturday, when they play host to Sporting Kansas City. FC Dallas will be at home again next Saturday, when they face Vancouver.
Here are the match highlights: