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Finishing and goalkeeping still haunt FCD

Everything fell into place for FC Dallas to leave Gillette Stadium with their first win of 2010 on Saturday night. In the 56th minute, New England’s Kheli Dube was sent off after a studs-up tackle on FCD center back Ugo Ihemelu.

Watch the full match highlights.

Ten minutes later, FCD drew things level when Atiba Harris headed home his second goal of the campaign off a well-struck free kick by Dax McCarty. The Revolution had taken a 1-0 lead four minutes before halftime when rookie Zack Schilawski scored his fourth goal of the year.

And the visitors got another break in the 72nd when New England’s Joseph Niouky got his second yellow in a span of seven minutes and he too was sent off, leaving Steve Nicol’s side with just nine players. However, in the end, FCD was unable to convert and had to settle for leaving Foxboro with only a 1-1 tie, their fourth draw in five games.

Just like in their previous four games, Schellas Hyndman’s team had more than its fair share of scoring chances. However, the aim in the final third was again lacking. FCD had a pair of shots carom off the crossbar in the final frame. The first was in the 77th minute when a long-range attempt from Brek Shea struck the frame in the upper right corner. And 10 minutes later, Jeff Cunningham headed a great cross from David Ferreira that also drew iron.

Shea made his first start since the March 27 season opener against Houston and the 20-year-old native Texan performed well. He was very active in the game’s early stages and also had some opportunities late but his shot that sailed high in the 94th minute after a deflection inside the box was clearly one of his team’s best chances.

However, Harris was clearly the man of the hour for FCD. He turned in what could easily be called his best game since coming over in a trade with Chivas USA last July. The St. Kitts and Nevis product was active the entire night and figured in a number of opportunities. But like his team, he too misfired on a key chance.

The one that got away from Harris was in the 84th when he dribbled into the six-yard box from the right side. Instead of taking the shot himself, he looked to feed Shea, only to see his effort go for naught as New England’s Kevin Alston swooped in to clear the ball off the line.

For most of the night, FCD was the better team. But once again, they are left with something less than a win. In tonight’s match, it was another mental gaffe that potentially cost them the three points. This one came in the 41st minute when New England got their only goal of the evening.

The Revolution’s Sainey Nyassi played a nice long ball to Dube, who was battling FCD goalkeeper Dario Sala for possession just outside the box and near the touch line. At one point, Sala tried to create some space between himself and Dube by using his right shoulder. When that strategy didn’t work and the FCD keeper thought the ball went over the line, he quit on the play.

But to his credit, Dube didn’t give up so easily. He strolled towards goal from the right side and when FCD center back George John, who was stationed at the near post, didn’t come out to challenge him, the New England midfielder laid the ball off beautifully to Schilawski, who finished with his left foot despite being pressed by Heath Pearce. It was a shocking way to give up a goal, especially considering that Hyndman’s club had dominated play for the entire half.

The good news is that once again, FCD created their share of chances but they again have little to show for those efforts. Hyndman and his team will have little time to dwell on this result as they hit the road on Wednesday to face Houston and then will host D.C. United next Saturday at Pizza Hut Park in what could be a battle of the league’s two winless sides.

Playing twice this week could be the formula to shake FCD from their current goal-scoring doldrums.