Currently there are only four teams in the MLS that do not have a league title: New England, New York, Dallas, and Colorado. So after today there will only be three teams left that is until the Whitecaps join the league next season and keep the number at four title-less teams.
But before the match is played let’s briefly take a look at each team’s coach, stars, and recent form:
Dallas is coached by former collegiate SMU man Schellas Hyndman. Hyndman has only been around the league since midway through 2008, but despite his short period of time in the league he has his franchise playing in their first MLS Cup and was also honored with the 2010 Coach of the Year Award for his side’s effort this season.
David Ferreira is not only the best player onthe Dallas squad, but the attacking midfielder was also the MVP of the league with 9 goals and 14 assists this season. If Ferreira wins the MLS Cup he will become only fourth player to ever win the title along with the MVP. Kansas City’s Tony Meola in 2000, Los Angeles’ Carlos Ruiz in 2002 and Columbus’ Guillermo Barros Schelotto in 2008 are the other three. Well aged Jeff Cunningham scored 14 goals this season at the forward position and is among the most prolific scorers in MLS history. Heath Pearce is an all star defender and regular for the U.S. national team.
Regular Season and Postseason
Dallas finished the regular season with a 12-14-4 record and a league’s best nineteen game unbeaten streak during the MLS regular season. They finished in 3rd place in the West which wasn’t good enough to earn homefield advantage. Facing 2nd place Real Salt Lake in the two match aggregate, they took advantage of the early homefield advantage with a 2-1 victory. They then sealed a spot in the semis with a 1-1 draw on the road. In the semifinal Dallas faced the Cup favorites in the 1st place Galaxy, but despite the tough road fixture Dallas thrashed Beckham and the boys 3-0 witha second half surge.
Colorado coach Gary Smith has taken his club to the MLS Cup final for the first time since 1997. Well a lot has changed since that year (including the fortunate death of The Macarana) and actually the drought was the longest by any club that had previously played in the final. In fact the 12 year absence from the final crushes Columbus’ streak of four, which is the second most in league history. So in other words, Smith was able to take Colorado somewhere they had not been in a very long time.
Occasional U.S. national team forward Conor Casey and Jamaican-born twenty eight year old Omar Cummings combined for 28 goals this season up top for the club. Each striker scored 14 goals for the club and were among the best performers in the league. Midfielder Pablo Mastroeni might be the most recognizable name on their roster though. Mastroeni was a former U.S. national team starting XI player.
Regular Season and Postseason:
Colorado had a strong enough regular season to advance to the postseason, but certainly not by much. The Rapids enjoyed a clutch victory over the La Galaxy just to assure a spot in the postseason and the league’s 5th place squad in the West was granted one of the East’s remaining spots with a better record then most of their club’s of 12-10-8. The Rapids faced Columbus in the first round and enjoyed a shock upset at home 1-0 to start off the postseason and then the club would advance to the second round despite losing the away second leg 2-1. Strangely, the league’s 5th place club was granted homefield advantage in the semifinals due to facing the West’s 6th best team of San Jose. A 1-0 victory has put them in the final.
Dallas has won all the other trophies this season (MVP, Coach of the Year) and I think the trend will continue.
Final Score: 2-1 Dallas
Special thanks to key stats from Paul Carr of ESPN. Here is a link to more.