Late Goal Gives Dallas a Slim Advantage

Avila's 88th minute strike makes the difference

10-30-10@FCD_Espindola_Hernandez_grab (620x350)

Photo Credit: 
Tom Pennington / Getty Images

FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas needed a late shot in the
arm, and they got just that from Eric Avila in the 88th minute.

The third-year midfielder scored less than a minute after
subbing in to help Dallas earn a 2-1 advantage over Real Salt Lake after the
first leg of their Western Conference Semifinal series at Pizza Hut Park.

The second leg will be played on Nov. 6 at Rio Tinto
Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

RSL drew first blood via Fabian Espíndola just five
minutes in. That advantage held until just before halftime when Jeff
Cunningham, also a Dallas substitute, netted an unassisted equalizer in the
44th minute.

Both clubs finished the match with 10 men after Javier
Morales was sent off for RSL and Atiba Harris was shown a straight red for FCD.

Avila’s goal came in his playoff debut, though he
benefited from some dogged work by MVP candidate David Ferreira. The Colombian
playmaker had powered through the RSL midfield before being upended, but Avila
overlapped Ferreira as he fell and collected the ball just outside the box
before blasting it past Nick Rimando's outstretched arm.

Espindola gave RSL the early lead after some pinpoint
service by veteran midfielder Andy Williams. The South American striker shook
off his defenders to gain possession and was able to fire a deep, curling shot
off despite having FCD center back Ugo Ihemelu in close proximity.

The RSL forward's left-footed shot was well hit and
landed in the left side of the Dallas net.

However, Dallas earned an equalizer through Cunningham,
whose goal came after Ferreira had sent in a cross that deflected off two RSL
defenders before landing at the veteran scorer’s feet. Cunningham then finished
into the left side of the net for the equalizer.

The seasoned forward had come on in the 32nd minute after
starting forward Milton Rodriguez was forced out with a right groin injury.
Cunningham's tally was the fifth playoff goal of his career. His last
postseason goal came against Dallas in 2005 when he was with Colorado.

Morales’ ejection came in the 69th minute after receiving
a second yellow card. The playmaker was booked after a high kick on FCD
midfielder Dax McCarty, meaning Salt Lake will now be without one of their best
attacking players for next weekend’s second leg at Rio Tinto Stadium.

But FCD will also lack a starting midfielder next weekend
after Harris was shown a straight red in the 75th minute following a mid-air
battle with Salt Lake’s Will Johnson.

FCD looked poised to go ahead in the 55th as Ferreira
found some space in RSL's third of the pitch, but his shot caromed off the
right post and away from danger.

In the 68th, fellow Dallas midfielder Marvin Chavez took
a shot from distance from the right side that Rimando had to paw away at the
far post.


Real Salt Lake 1, at FC Dallas 2

Conference Semifinal- Pizza Hut Park

Attendance: 11,003



Scoring Summary:

RSL -- Fabian Espindola 1 (Andy Williams 1) 5

DAL -- Jeff Cunningham 1 (unassisted) 44

DAL -- Eric Avila 1 (David Ferreira 1) 88



Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Jamison
Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Andy Williams (Will Johnson 68), Kyle
Beckerman, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy, Alvaro Saborio (Robbie Findley 68),
Fabian Espindola (Jean Alexandre 73).

Substitutes Not Used: Tony Beltran, Pablo Campos, Collen
Warner, Kyle Reynish.


FC Dallas -- Kevin Hartman, Jackson Goncalves, Zach Loyd,
Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez (Eric Avila 87), Atiba Harris, Daniel Hernandez, Dax
McCarty, Marvin Chavez (Brek Shea 69), David Ferreira, Milton Rodriguez (Jeff
Cunningham 32).

Substitutes Not Used: Eric Alexander, George John, Ruben
Luna, Dario Sala.



Misconduct Summary:

DAL -- Jair Benitez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 25

RSL -- Andy Williams (caution; Reckless Foul) 46

RSL -- Javier Morales (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 49

DAL -- Daniel Hernandez (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 49

RSL -- Javier Morales (caution; Reckless Foul) 69

RSL -- Javier Morales (ejection; Second Caution) 69

DAL -- Atiba Harris (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 75


Referee: Kevin Stott

Referee's Assistants: -Kermit Quisenberry; Cameron Blair

4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja

Time of Game: 1:54

Weather: Clear-and-78-degrees




Javier Morales received his second yellow card, and
subsequent red card, in the 69th minute. 
He will be unavailable for game two of the series.

Atiba Harris received a red card for a serious foul while
going up for a head ball in the 75th minute. 
He will be unavailable for game two of the series.