Texas Teams Tie in Showdown

With first place in the West on the line, Houston’s five-game winning streak was brought to a halt by intrastate rivals FC Dallas on Saturday evening. The showdown of MLS’ two Texas teams at Pizza Hut Park finished without a goal, 0-0.

Neither teams’ attack looking especially potent in the first half, but FC Dallas did get a few chances early. In the 10th minute, Dallas went on the attack. Off a Pablo Ricchetti free kick, Carlos Ruiz sent a glancing header goalward but the Guatemalan’s effort went wide of the near post and out of play.

Five minutes later, FC Dallas’ Dominic Oduro showed his speed as he broke down the right side of the field, beating a defender to the ball. The native of Ghana pulled up and tried to chip the ball over Zach Wells, but Houston’s back-up keeper was anticipating the shot and easily made the save.

In the 38th minute, Houston’s Richard Mulrooney sprung Brian Ching with an incisive pass that forced Aaron Pitchkolan to take the Hawaiian striker down, drawing a yellow card in the process. On the ensuing free kick, defender Brad Davis hit a dipping shot over the wall, but Dario Sala had it covered, making the simple two-handed save.

As halftime approached, Dallas would get one more chance to take the lead. Off a corner kick, the ball would squirt out to Arturo Alvarez, whose shot from outside the box was easily handled by Wells, keeping the game scoreless at the break.

In the 60th minute, Juan Carlos Toja tried a shot with the outside of his left foot after the ball came to him on a corner kick, but his effort spun wide of the near post and out of play.

Ten minutes later, Carlos Ruiz would again have another chance to put FC Dallas ahead. After a throw in, Dallas passed the ball along the top of the box and Ruiz tried to put the ball in the top corner, but the shot missed its target wide right and the game remained scoreless.

Just one minute later, substitute Abe Thompson tried to catch Wells off his line from 30 yards out, but the Houston’s keeper raced back to catch the ball with ease in front of the goal.

Six minutes from full-time, FCD’s Alvarez would lose defender Eddie Robinson with a stutter-step move and aimed for the far corner. But he couldn’t bend the left-footed attempt inside the post and ball went out of play harmlessly.

At the other end of the field, Dario Sala made a game-saving stop as time dwindled. Dwayne De Rosario ran onto a loose ball at the edge of the box, but the Canadian international’s shot was turned away by a sliding Sala, preserving his clean sheet and the tie for his club.

With the two teams picking up a point each, Houston failed to capitalize on an opportunity to move into a tie for first-place with Dallas. The tie meant Steve Morrow’s team would maintain their three-point advantage over the Men in Orange for the top spot in the Western Conference.

HOU – Zach Wells, Eddie Robinson, Ryan Cochrane, Brian Mullan (Chris Wondolowski 89’), Brad Davis (Corey Ashe 74’), Dwayne De Rosario, Craig Waibel, Wade Barrett, Brian Ching, Richard Mulrooney, Joseph Ngwenya (Stuart Holden 74’)

FCD – Dario Sala, Marcelo Saragosa, Pablo Ricchetti, Juan Toja, Clarence Goodson, Arturo Alvarez, David Wagenfuhr, Aaron Pitchkolan, Bobby Rhine, Carlos Ruiz, Dominic Oduro (Abe Thompson 71’)

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