FRISCO, Tex. – MLS points leaders FC Dallas made an early season statement to the rest of the league by defeating the previously unbeaten LA Galaxy 1-0 at FC Dallas Stadium on Saturday night.
WATCH: Cudicini saves PK
As has become the norm for FC Dallas matches, the excitement came late as defender George John scored off a rebound when Eric Hassli’s header hit the crossbar in the 87th minute. It was the 10th goal in the last 15 minutes of an FC Dallas match this season (four scored by Dallas, six by their opponents).
With both teams cancelling each other out in the first half (neither team had a shot on target), the match took a decisive turn in the 60th minute when LA defender Leonardo was shown red for taking down Dallas forward Blas Perez in the box. On the ensuing PK, Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini guessed correctly and saved Kenny Cooper’s attempt from the spot.
WATCH: Fernandez saves Donovan PK
Minutes later, the 10-man Galaxy earned a penalty of their own when John tripped up LA forward Jose Villarreal in the opposite box. LA captain Landon Donovan stepped up to take the PK only to be thwarted by goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, who dove to his left to make the stop.
Fernandez's save set up John's late heroics, although his game-winning header was marred by a projectile thrown by FC Dallas supporters which struck the defender in the head and left him on the ground during the minutes immediately following his strike.
The clean sheet was the fourth of the season for FC Dallas, who continued a trend of defensive dominance, especially in the first half of matches. Dallas has now shut out their opponents in the first half of all seven matches this season.
WATCH: John scores late winner for Dallas
While the home team fielded the same lineup that drew 2-2 in Toronto last weekend, the Galaxy welcomed Donovan into the starting lineup for the first time during the MLS regular season, while rookie left back Greg Cochrane, a second-round selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, made his first career start.
Both teams will a enjoy a week of home cooking as FC Dallas plays the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday evening at FC Dallas Stadium (8:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE) while the Galaxy take on Sporting KC at The Home Depot Center in another nationally televised match on NBC Sports Network (10:30 p.m. ET/ 7:30 p.m. PT).