Colorado Rapids came from a goal down to win Major League Soccer’s championship game, 2-1 after extra-time against FC Dallas in Toronto. Dallas started the better side, even putting a shot on frame in the first thirty seconds of the game. Their measured control and explosiveness on the wings resulted in the game’s first goal, a beautiful, curling cross from Marvin Chávez that met league MVP David Ferreira in stride. Ferreira blasted the cross past Matt Pickens and Dallas took the lead on 35 minutes. But the fine play that got the Hoops that goal was all but over. Colorado muscled their way through the rest of the game.
Conor Casey (pictured) was the main instigator for the Rapids, earning five fouls and bullying Dallas defenders throughout the second half. After failing to win a penalty after going down in the box in the first half, Casey got the better of Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman and defender Jair Benítez to sneak a goal while laying on his back. The leveler came just moments before the hour mark and completely changed the face of the game. Rather than chase another goal, Colorado sat mostly content with an even score. The game stayed tied through ninety minutes and the requisite extra-time was added.
Neither team mustered much of anything in the first period, but it was the Rapids who finally struck in the second. Casey lobbed a cross-field ball into the box, falling at the feet of Mac Kandji. The lanky forward nutmegged Benítez and lunged forward to toe-poke the ball toward goal. Dallas defender George John got his leg out just enough to deflect Kandji’s shot but not cleanly enough to clear the ball over the bar. Instead, John’s intervention floated the ball softly into the goal, giving Colorado a 2-1 advantage in the 107th minute. Dallas’ Jeff Cunningham had a late shot cleared off the line by Jeff Larentowicz and that was it. Colorado Rapids, an original Major League Soccer team, had won their first MLS Cup.
Conor Casey was given the game’s MVP award after his goal and pass to Kandji set up the Rapids’ winner. For the league, an own-goal in extra-time in a half-empty stadium (and a game that garnered just a 0.5 television rating, the lowest in league history) was not exactly the display it wanted for it’s finale. But given the league’s insistence on a playoff to determine its champion, the finish to the season is entirely fitting. For the second consecutive season the league champion finished no higher than seventh place on the regular season table.