April 11, 2009 MLS Toronto FC vs FC Dallas (from MLSnet.com)

Ricchetti equalizer lifts FCD spirits
Dallas captain delivers first point of season in dramatic fashion
04/11/2009 08:44 PMBy Peter Mallett / MLSnet.com Staff

Ricchetti equalizer lifts FCD spirits

TORONTO -- After a miserable winless start to the season, FC Dallas were finally rewarded with their first point of 2009 thanks to a dramatic late-game equalizer from midfielder Pablo Ricchetti as FCD tied Toronto FC 1-1 at BMO Field on Saturday.

"It's a great feeling for the whole team to finally get a point. I think you saw today we are better than an 0-3 team," said coach Schellas Hyndman. "Being down early and having the resilience to fight through it was a fantastic feeling as a coach and for the team as a whole. We have to start somewhere on a positive note this season and today was really our starting point."

Ricchetti`s sublime 88th-minute back-heel erased the earlier feelings of despair. It was his first MLS career goal since the Buenos Aires native joined Dallas in 2007 from Argentina`s Quilmes.

With his back to goal and Toronto fans already celebrating what looked to be a sure victory for the Reds, the Dallas captain tapped a low cross from second-half substitute Eric Avila into the Toronto goal and past goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

"He grabbed me and said 'great stuff, what a cross -- terrific cross,'" said Avila, who replaced midfielder Andre Rocha in the 66th minute.

"When I got to the ball I just tried to put it right in front of the goal and get something out of it. I just tried to drive the ball as hard as I could right across the face of goal and it worked."

Dallas were off to the worst start in club history, having lost their first three matches of the season to Chicago, Chivas USA and New England. On Saturday, FCD outshot Toronto 19-11, but were completely frustrated until the Ricchetti equalizer which they felt was long overdue.

"The ball was sent across by Avila on a Dax McCarty corner kick -- it was a tremendous goal by Ricchetti," said Hyndman. "It was one of those goals where everything has to be perfectly right with your back to goal and I think it just caught everyone by surprise. It was a quality and composed finish."

Dallas enjoyed lengthy spells of possession and saw some dangerous one-two combinations between midfielder David Ferreira and striker Kenny Cooper but failed to find the back of the net.

In the 30th minute Cooper collected a clever flick-on from Ferreira and forced Toronto goalkeeper Frei into an acrobatic one-handed save. Then McCarty appeared to have finally broken the ice for Dallas in the 44th minute when his well-placed header from a Dave van den Bergh cross had Frei beaten, but struck the underside of the Toronto goal and then bounced down on the goal line.

Several Dallas players appealed to referee Terry Vaughn to allow the goal but the play continued and Toronto went to the locker room with a 1-0 halftime lead.

"I thought it was in too," said McCarty. "At first when the ball hits the underside of the crossbar and goes straight down you want to think the linesman would raise his flag for the first goal. But unfortunately for us he didn't -- it was a great cross from van den Bergh."

Van den Bergh had his own chance to equalize in the 68th minute when he took a flick-on from Cooper and then unleashed a hard volley at Frei who smothered the shot.

The frustration continued to mount for the visitors until the very end, when Ricchetti ensured there would be something to celebrate on the return trip to Texas.

"We came out with a lot of energy -- you know we all believed that we could come back fighting, and fortunately we were able to pull a goal back with a beautiful shot from Pablo Ricchetti," said Cooper, who had scored both of FCD's previous goals on the season. "It was a great goal and it felt good to get back into the game."

The two teams meet again in a rematch next Sunday at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.

Peter Mallett is a contributor to MLSnet.com/

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