Colorado wins MLS Cup

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:17 AM ET

TORONTO - Unluckily down by a goal despite being the better side in the first half, the Colorado Rapids were as fortuitous as can be in extra time, winning the MLS Cup 2-1 over FC Dallas on an own goal.

In the 18th minute, game MVP Conor Casey got the ball to Macoumba Kandi on the right side. Kandji took on Jair Benitez, put it through his legs, before sending a cross that bounced off of FCD defender George John and past a helpless Kevin Hartman.

John later just failed to force penalties in the final seconds, as Matt Pickens made a great game-saving stop before the reviled Jeff Cunningham had an equalizer booted away off of the goal line.

As showcase games go, it was not a jaw-dropping spectacle.

But the MLS Cup in Toronto was far from a dud and the fans got their money’s worth.

While there weren’t a ton of scoring opportunities, there were enough to keep spectators interested. There was an intensity and ruggedness to the proceedings befitting a match for all the marbles.

Even the weather played along as MLS fears of a snow-swept BMO Field that would force the game to be played with a bright orange ball didn’t come close to materializing

Instead, though a bit windy, there was no rain or snow and the 7 degrees celsius temperature at kickoff matched last year’s game in Seattle.

The teams played each other to two draws earlier this season and were locked in another stalemate for much of the night.

Colorado’s defence looked outstanding early. Ex-Red Marvell Wynne and midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, in particular, stymied a number of decent moves forward by Dallas and largely held an extremely dangerous attacking squad in check all night.

Though Colorado controlled the play in the first half, the team could not capitalize and found itself down at the half.

As is so often the way in sports, the next great chance after a foul on Casey in close was not called went to the other team and Dallas showed its quick strike reputation was well-deserved.

In the 35th minute, Benitez made a clever long pass to Marvin Chavez who chested it down beautifully, before playing an even better ball across to league MVP David Ferreira who made no mistake, left-footing the ball past a helpless Matt Pickens.

Just? Not really, since Colorado had clearly been the better side to that point, but things more than evened out later.

Though the shots on goal were two for Dallas, one for Colorado in the half, the Rapids had the ball for a lot more of the action.

Colorado equalized in the 57th minute when midfielder Jamie Smith made a perfect cross to Casey. With Jair Benitez and keeper Kevin Hartman entangled with him, Casey - a member of TFC for two games once upon a time - directed the ball in from his backside.

Colorado continued to press, forcing Hartman to make a tremendous save in the 62nd minute, diving to his left to deny a Larentowicz free kick.

The officials clearly did not want to be key players in the outcome.

If this were the NHL, a number of post-whistle scrums would have resulted in penalties, but the referees were letting the two combatants play. Deep into extra play, Colorado was also poised to take a free kick, but the whistle was blown before they were allowed to attempt it - something that is never done in the regular season.

The announcement that the crowd was 21,700 - a sellout - elicted a number of chuckles in the press box. The crowd was closer to 17,000 and a disappointing number of spectators checked out prior to the start of the extra thirty minutes.

Those not on hand missed a pretty good show and missed the chance to witness that rarest of sporting spectacles in Toronto - a pro team hoisting a championship on Hogtown soil.


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