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MLS Cup: Rapids vs. FC Dallas, poll, video

By Steve Goff

Way back in March, when the season commenced, not one card-carrying member of the human race (6.8 billion and counting) predicted an MLS Cup showdown between the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas. Not one. Really. I asked around. The fact that the clubs play in the same conference had something to do with it. The fact that the clubs had been so bland for so many years, bordering on irrelevancy in their own bored markets, had a lot to do with it.

But here we are: Colorado vs. Dallas, Sunday night at Toronto's BMO Field (8:30 p.m., ESPN). Although it's not the sexy matchup that some had hoped for, it does strengthen historically middling clubs in need of breakthroughs. It also proved that glamorous signings aren't necessary to achieve postseason success. The Rapids had not reached the final since 1997, when current Wolves keeper Marcus Hahnemann was manning the net. The closest Dallas had been to the Cup was when its stadium staged the title game in '05 and '06.

Both are in good form, but Dallas must be favored after blasting the Supporters' Shield holder Los Angeles Galaxy, 3-0, at Home Depot Center. We'll take a closer look at personnel later in the week, but for now, a few intangibles:

Travel: The Rapids were home for the conference final and played a day earlier than Dallas, which was sent to the West Coast. Advantage: Rapids.

Weather: The forecast calls for a low of 36 on the banks of Lake Ontario. Advantage: Rapids, who played Saturday in below-freezing Commerce City. Besides, Dallas has starters from Texas, Florida, Colombia, Honduras, Brazil, Nigeria and St. Kitts/Nevis.

Regular season: The clubs played to a 1-1 draw at Colorado in July and a 2-2 tie in Frisco last month. Advantage: No one.

A hot keeper makes all the difference: Matt Pickens has been good but Kevin Hartman has been great. Advantage: Dallas.

Crowd favorites: Neither club has a large foundation of support -- and those who want to attend have a long and costly trip ahead of them. Who will the Toronto faithful back? Dallas reserve Edson Edward is from Canada! Jeff Cunningham played for TFC but was a bust. Colorado defender Marvell Wynne had three enjoyable seasons in Ontario before being traded early this year and is making a plea for Canadian support. Advantage: Rapids.

Poll: Based on what you saw this weekend.....

Video highlights from the Dallas victory over the Galaxy:
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By Steve Goff  | November 15, 2010; 1:12 AM ET
Categories:  MLS  | Tags:  MLS Cup  
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Next: Monday kickaround: MLS coaches, Champions League, Don Garber, vuvuzelas, NCAA tournaments

Comments

At least we know the Champions League field for the next go-round: Seattle, L.A., Dallas and Colorado.

Posted by: Juan-John | November 15, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Western Conf final was a better and more telegenic match than that ragged COL-SJ affair. LA defenders had a pretty bad game, while on the other end Hartman played very well.

Posted by: Ron16 | November 15, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I called Colorado at the beginning of the playoffs, so I'll stick with them...

Posted by: Reignking | November 15, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Dallas is simply on a "good cup run". They've played with a sense of real urgency. Should win on Sunday.

Posted by: cidcamp70 | November 15, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Both teams are playing very well right now but I do believe the weather will be a factor, Colorado wins!

Posted by: croftonpost | November 15, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I clicked vote without picking a team. Was I defaulted to Dallas, or did my ambivalence register in a "none of the above" category.

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: jayrockers | November 15, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Enjoyable match last night. I truly hope each team has a decent travelling supporters presence at the Cup.

Wonder how many LA fans had already booked a flight?

Posted by: DCB23 | November 15, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

How much fun is it to watch LA lose? Would it have been more fun to watch them lose next week?

It's hard to pick against Dallas. They only lost 4 times all year. They did have a huge number of ties though too. It certainly shows what a team that makes smart signings can achieve...a team that went from near the bottom to near the top very quickly. That has to give some hope to our pathetic home team, right?

Posted by: fedssocr | November 15, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Are others as excited as me to see the crowds in Dallas and Denver next year for mid-week CCL matches?

Posted by: jofij | November 15, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Any word on advance ticket sales for MLS Cup?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 15, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I would say, while the game lacks the headline pull by having the top names involved, this was the final the leauge will quietly admit it needed. Two clubs who have their own infrastructure, but didn't have the attention of their supporters. Here's hoping that more than a few get on a plane saying "When will we get back here...let's go".

Also, I think this shows reward for some hard working sides. Gary Smith is continuing to show he's an asset to Colorado and FC Dallas is a great story with some good young talent.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | November 15, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

"Matt Pickens has been good"

Uh, his gaffe against RSL in the closing minutes resulted in a goal for RSL.

On Sat., he had an easy clearance, but hit a soft "pass" 30 yards to an SJ mid . . who, despite green grass in front, decided to shoot . . . WAY over the top.

Pickens is ok, but he needs to clean up his decisions.

Posted by: delantero | November 15, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

At least it should be warmer than it was in Colorado.

Posted by: jake77 | November 15, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Don Garber cried himself to sleep last night...

Posted by: rademaar | November 15, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Are they playing on the artificial garbage?

Posted by: delantero | November 15, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

If the Toronto team is sponsored by the Bank of Montreal, will the Montreal expansion team be sponsored by Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 15, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

@I-270Exit1,

Only if the shirt logo features the heads of Regis and Kelly...

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | November 15, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Will FC Dallas continue their great strategy of tackling opposing players on corner kicks in their own end?

Posted by: foul_throw | November 15, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

What a nightmare for MLS. Two of the worst supported teams in MLS history in the finals should result in record low tv ratings.

Posted by: grognard66 | November 15, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Tho I dislike Dallas, I love Kevin Hartman. He is the best goalie standing for the last game. Dallas for me. I don't understand fan apathy for MLS at all. You either love soccer or you don't.

Posted by: VirginiaFan | November 15, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I've got a better poll for this game:
What will the tv ratings be?

A: 0.0
B: 0.1
C: 0.2

I feel bad for whomever has to make the promos for this game. They have to throw away the "Beckham! Donovan! Henry!" script, and go with the "Um...it should be a great game! Really! Ignore the fact that you wont recognize anyone..."
With that said, I'm looking forward to it! Great matchup.

Posted by: icehippo | November 15, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

When my hometown team DC United isn't playing, I always revert to my tried and true scientific method of choosing a winner: Uniforms. Colorado's uniforms beat the Dallas hoops easily, consequently Colorado cruises.

Posted by: b18bolo | November 15, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

There was no voting option for ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | November 15, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Are they playing on the artificial garbage?

Posted by: delantero

Dude, they've been rollin' up the real deal all year in Toronto...

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/32347/

Posted by: DadRyan | November 15, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

When my hometown team DC United isn't playing, I always revert to my tried and true scientific method of choosing a winner: Uniforms. Colorado's uniforms beat the Dallas hoops easily, consequently Colorado cruises.

Posted by: b18bolo

I go by the helmets. And the score is based on the distance between the two stadiums.

Posted by: Reignking | November 15, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

What's up with all the stick in the muds? Who cares which two teams made the final. It's MLS Cup people! I will watch for that reason alone and that is a good enough reason to watch. I don't blow off other championship/finals due to the participants and I'm not going to start here. Now if you're a fair weather MLS fan........then that is a different matter altogether.

Posted by: Gambrills4 | November 15, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Last night's game was actually pretty good and should have even pleased Ron16. LA dominated early and it Kevin Hartman that kept Dallas in the game. Then Dallas started showing how good passing and moving to support each other can create scoring chances and turned the game around.

I feel David Ferreira should have been league MVP but was passed over in favor of higher profile players or players in higher profile markets.

Let's hope the Toronto fans show up for the game Sunday. I've been an enthusiastically half-hearted attendee at 2 RFK MLS Cups that did not feature DC United.

Keep the enthusiasm going even if you have to sing the "One Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall" song!

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | November 15, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

i don't care what the TV ratings will be, i will be watching and it should be a great game. not many "marquis" names, i suppose, but plenty of interesting players to watch on one level or another: Larentowicz, Mastroeni, Kimura, Casey & Cummings on one side; Ferreira, Shea, Cunningham, McCarty & Hartman on the other (just to pick a few). just looked at the stats and saw that Hartman has lost just 1 game all year - a 1-0 loss to the Galaxy way back in May! he was incredible again last night.

it's also a chance for a team who has never won the title to take home some hardware, and that's good for the league. Colorado got nearly 18,000 people out in the frigid cold on Saturday night - way above their average. Dallas only had 1 home playoff game and unfortunately it coincided with a Texas Rangers home World Series game. i guess we'll see if any momentum carries over into next year for them.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | November 15, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

These teams may not have a big national (or even local) profile, but these are the two best teams in MLS right now -- by which I mean they have played the best over the last couple of months.

Colorado may not be well-known, but they have the best striker tandem MLS has ever seen. That could be the difference, as it seems impossible to keep them off the scoreboard. On the other hand, Dallas is playing brilliantly and probably fields the best 11 in MLS. They should dominate the possession. If they can turn that into an early lead, they should be able to shut down Colorado. If Dallas can't find the net, the Rapids' dynamic duo will make them pay.

Not Beckham vs. Henry, but these teams are playing better than NYRB and LA. It's no accident they're in the final.

Posted by: fischy | November 15, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

this game is a toss-up. dont think people realize that rapids quietly were arguably the most impressive team in the final 1/3 of the season

- 5W-3D-2L (18 pts) with a +11 GD

in comparison:
- dallas was 3-5-2 (14 pts), +3.
- LA - 5-1-4 (16pts), -1
- RSL - 5-5-0 (20pts), +7
- SEA - 6-2-2 (20pts), +6
- NYRB - 6-2-2 (20pts), +10

MVP (hopefully) in ferreira and top forward combo in casey/cummings.

its a worthy final...

Posted by: rainORshine | November 15, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

What's up with all the stick in the muds? Who cares which two teams made the final. It's MLS Cup people! I will watch for that reason alone and that is a good enough reason to watch. I don't blow off other championship/finals due to the participants and I'm not going to start here. Now if you're a fair weather MLS fan........then that is a different matter altogether.

Posted by: Gambrills4 | November 15, 2010 12:51 PM

I'll tell you what's up...I actually care about soccer succeeding in this country. The Super Bowl will have a great rating no matter who's playing. The MLS Cup will only get good ratings, and soccer will only prosper in this country, if they can start drawing in the casual sports fan. The easiest way to do that is to have recognizable players and teams in your marquee game. On a personal level, I root against NY and LA. But on a non-selfish level, I know that a game with the few stars that casual fans have heard of will help the ratings, and possibly bring more fans into MLS in general. So until we get to the point where MLS is more than a niche sport in this country, I'll be rooting for the teams that give it the best chance to draw in new folks.

Posted by: icehippo | November 15, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Are they playing on the artificial garbage?
Posted by: delantero
----
Dude, they've been rollin' up the real deal all year in Toronto...
Posted by: DadRyan
=========

You misunderstood the question. He was asking about the playing surface.
:-)

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 15, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

icehippo,

I agree with your point but I will be watching irregardless of the potential tv ratings. I get that it isn't the greatest match-up for MLS Cup ratings but I'm certainly not ambivalent or about to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Posted by: Gambrills4 | November 15, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Gambrills4,

I'll be watching too...I'm excited about the matchup myself.
It just happens to suck for the greater good.

Posted by: icehippo | November 15, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Depends on what time the food blender infomercials come on. Way more entertainment value than MLS.

Posted by: NICKYNUNYA | November 16, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse

I think the final should always be a matchup between the two teams in the league that spend the most on DPs. That way it will always be LA v. NY and the "casual" soccer fan will always tune in for the MLS cup and soccer fans will multiply like rabbits.

Or we could have a matchup between the two teams that are playing the best in the playoffs and then enjoy the match; because whether or not you know anything about the two teams is irrelevant. It's going to be a really good game.

If someone isn't going to tune in because Beckham isn't on the field, who cares? The game is doing fine without those fans. And they make me sick anyway.

Posted by: hacksaw | November 16, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Depends on what time the food blender infomercials come on. Way more entertainment value than MLS.

Posted by: NICKYNUNYA | November 16, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse

******************************************

I had to contain myself before I responded to this. What an incredible wit. I bet you spent all night dreaming up such an inventive post. 30 Rock here you come!

Posted by: Gambrills4 | November 16, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

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