BY ADAM SERRANO
TORONTO – Anthony Wallace sits on the cusp of the MLS Cup and the only thing standing in the way is his old club, FC Dallas.
The former U.S. Youth International spent three and a half years with Dallas after being drafted with the 9th pick, but struggled to earn significant playing time with FCD. Wallace was eventually traded from FC Dallas to the Rapids on July 30th in exchange for a pair of draft picks. Since the trade, Wallace has quickly earned a place on the squad, starting ten matches for Colorado including three in the playoffs.
“When it first happened, my head was spinning because it literally was something that happened over night it turned," said Wallace. ”It was a fresh start moving from Dallas because I didn’t have my foot in the door with the team so coming to Colorado, it was a new opportunity in a new city.”
During Wallace's tenure with FCD, the defender was moved throughout the park playing in a number of different locations along the backline and in midfield as he searched for a secure role with the club. When Schellas Hyndman took over as FC Dallas head coach in 2008, Wallace's role was in flux until settling as a left back before his trade during midseason.
After coming from Dallas, Wallace was able to earn the left back spot away from the incumbent Danny Earls and become the Rapids' first choice left back. Although Wallace did not see a great deal time with Dallas, Rapids head coach Gary Smith admits that he saw something in Wallace that would add significant value to his Rapids squad.
“He’s a well balanced lad that has a natural left foot that gives balance to the team. He’s got a lot of athleticism and he’s a young guy so there’s a lot of potential there," said Smith. ”Anthony was someone that I had seen in reserve games and around the league at certain points and I felt that he would fit well into the group."
During the Rapids run to the Cup, Wallace has been able to form a close bond with the members of the backline. Aiding in that transition was the presence of former Dallas teammate Drew Moor. Moor and Wallace played at Dallas for each of the defender's three years with FCD and that relationship significantly aided in Wallace's transition. Wallace admitted that although it was difficult initially with Colorado, he's grown in sync with his teammates.
That ability to be in sync will be vital as the Rapids look to stop a Dallas attack that may be the most complete offensive power that the Rapids have faced during the postseason. Spearheaded by David Ferriera, Dallas enters the Cup Final as the favorites after knocking off both Real Salt Lake and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“Anthony is athletic but, when he first started playing with us, he was a little bit off," said Kimura. "But he’s a smart kid and he definitely suits our system. He’s one of the best left backs that we have right now.”
Wallace looks set to play a key role in stopping Dallas winger Marvin Chavez. Chavez was impressive scoring a goal and causing Los Angeles left back Eddie Lewis problems with his clever runs forward. In addition to Chavez, Brek Shea will also pose a danger to Colorado with his ability to switch with the Honduran winger.
Wallace has effective in stopping high-rated wingers Bobby Convey and Robbie Rogers during the Rapids' previous postseason matches. Wallace has been targeted in both series' and will even more attention in the most important match of his young career. One match away from the cup, Wallace was not shy about his desire to bring the cup back to the Mile High City and finally put one over on the team that beat him.
“We need to keep a tight core and not let Dallas play through the middle of field and if we do that then we should be able to get the victory,” said Wallace. "I want to stick it to [Dallas] and help us get that cup, if we pulled it out then there would be a lot of meaning to it.”