The Rapids looked the much stronger team on the night outshooting Dallas 18-6 and controlling much of the possession throughout the game.
(To view video highlights from this match CLICK HERE).
Nicolas Hernandez forced the first save of the game from Dario Sala in the seventh minute. After receiving a pass from Kyle Beckerman he took a shot and forced Sala to dive to his left for the save.
Sala nearly cost his team dearly in the eighth minute by coming way out of his box to play the ball and shanking it before colliding with teammate Bobby Rhine. Luckily for Dallas the ball fell to Richard Mulrooney who was able to get it out of trouble.
Sala made another save in the 10th minute on Thiago Martins. He came out of the goal and slid to get his chest in the way of the shot.
Carlos Ruiz put FC Dallas in the lead in the 15th minute. Chris Gbandi threw the ball in and the Guatemalan who appeared to use his hand to guide the ball to his own feet spun around Aitor Karanka and was able to put his first touch under Joe Cannon and into the goal.
Hernandez had a header go just wide in the 20th minute. Terry Cooke whipped in a free kick and the Argentine rose to meet the ball in the air.
The Rapids did tie the game just moments later. Stealing the ball near midfield Hernandez stormed to the edge of the area on the counter. He laid the ball off to Beckerman whose pass into the box was chested down by Martins who spun and hammered the ball goalward. Sala's dive at full stretch was just able to touch it onto his right-hand post. The rebound came out and Cooke ran onto it and slammed home his first goal of the playoffs and the season.
Sala made his third big save in the 41st minute. Hernandez cut past Gbandi and hit a left-footed shot that was saved by Sala.
In first half stoppage time Sala came up big again on Hernandez. Sala deflected the ball with his right foot to send it out of play.
Cannon made his first big save of the game on Kenny Cooper in the 50th minute. Cooper came in off the wing but Cannon came off his line and smothered the ball.
Abe Thompson put Dallas back on top in the 55th minute. Ronnie O’Brien played a ball to the back post where Thompson controlled the ball and shot it past Cannon. Rapids defenders vigorously appealed the play to the linesman as Thompson appeared to be several yards off-sides on the play to receive the ball.
Clint Mathis almost tied the game up again in the 73rd minute. Mathis played a ball out to Cooke who returned it to the striker but his towering header went just over the crossbar.
The Rapids had a goal taken off the board in the 86th minute when Hernandez was called for a foul. Thiago Martins had appeared to knock home the tying goal on the night but a late whistle by the referee called the goal back due to a seemingly innocuous foul out on the wing by Hernandez and the boos rained down on the officials from the Rapids' faithful.
The Rapids will now travel to Dallas for the return leg on Saturday Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. looking for a victory. A draw or a win will send the Hoops into the Western Conference Championship on their own field; the Rapids have to win by two clear goals to ensure advancement while a one-goal victory after 90 minutes will send the game into extra time and potentially into a penalty kick shootout.
The second leg will be shown live on Altitude Sports and Entertainment and the Rapids will be hosting the club's Official Away-Game Viewing Party at the British Bulldog located at Broadway and Stout Streets in Lodo for fans to gather and watch the game live in a great soccer atmosphere.
Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Nicolas Hernandez
DAL – Ruiz (Gbandi) 15
COL – Cooke 23
DAL – Thompson (O’Brien) 55
Colorado Rapids – Joe Cannon Matt Crawford (Clint Mathis 64) Aitor Karanka (Chris Wingert 28) Dan Gargan Jacob Peterson (Jovan Kirovski 71) Kyle Beckerman Pablo Mastroeni Daniel Wasson Terry Cooke Nicolas Hernandez Thiago Martins
Substitutes Not Used: Matt Jordan Hunter Freeman Alain Nkong Fabrice Noel Chris Wingert
FC Dallas – Dario Sala Bobby Rhine (Clarence Goodson 86) Drew Moor Greg Vanney Chris Gbandi Ronnie O’Brien Richard Mulrooney Simo Valakari Kenny Cooper (David Wagenfuhr 67) Carlos Ruiz Abe Thompson (Marcelo Saragosa 75)
Substitutes Not Used: Shaka Hislop Arturo Alvarez Roberto Mina Ramon Nunez
COL – Gargan (Caution) 57
COL – Beckerman (Caution) 86
COL – Martins (Ejection) 88
DAL – Ruiz (Caution) 90
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assts: Thomas Supple; Ron Fereday
4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja