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Rapids complete another comeback to lift first MLS Cup

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TORONTO – The MLS Cup is staying put in the Rocky Mountain region.

Extra-time substitute Mac Kandji's close-range shot ricocheted off George John for an own goal in the 108th minute, lifting the Colorado Rapids to a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas and their first MLS Cup title on a bitter-cold night at BMO Field.

Kandji received the ball on the right side of the FCD box after a cross from Conor Casey, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player. Kandji slipped by Jair Benitez and found space to put a shot on frame from a tight angle. Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman seemed to have it lined up until John re-directed the ball into the goal for the game-winner and the third own goal in MLS Cup history.

"As soon as we came to Toronto, I had a good feeling," said Kandji, who was sent to Colorado by the New York Red Bulls in a midseason trade.

Kandji entered the game in the 98th minute for an injured Omar Cummings (thigh), but he suffered a left leg injury on the play and had to exit the game after the goal despite the Rapids having already exhausted all of their substitutes.

Playing with a man-advantage for the final 12 minutes and change, FC Dallas had numerous chances to tie the game and force penalty kicks. John nearly made amends for his miscue in the final moments, but he was denied by a sprawling Matt Pickens, who touched away the centerback's low shot.

"It was just a reaction," said Pickens, who made five saves. "Luckily I came out on top."

Seconds before the final whistle, Drew Moor cleared a Jeff Cunningham shot off the line.

"We've got a hard-working crew," said Casey, who was denied a penalty after appearing to be fouled by Benitez in the box in the 27th minute. "It feels like we really earned it. Our backs were against the wall for a lot of the game, but we just showed our resolve."

Colorado fell behind in the 35th minute when reigning league MVP David Ferreira opened the scoring. He latched onto a superb Marvin Chavez cross from the right and touched home a one-timer from the edge of the 6-yard box to put Dallas in the driver's seat.

Ferreira's effectiveness was limited after that, though, through a stout, team defensive effort. Central midfielders Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni headlined the effort to contain Dallas' sparkplug.

Their physical play, along with that of Casey, a true battering ram up top and while tracking back, stunted Dallas' possession- and passing-oriented attack.

"If you're going to stop FC Dallas you're going to have to knock us out of our rhythm or our attack," FCD coach Schellas Hyndman said. "The thing with physical play is it's disruptive. If that was their game plan, it was perfect."

The Rapids found the answer to Ferreira's goal in the 57th minute through Casey, who scored a gritty goal from his backside to breathe new life into his team.

Zach Loyd's failed clearance attempt to the left sideline afforded winger Jaime Smith the space to attack and cross. Both Hartman and Benitez dove to defend the cross by the near post, and the ball squirted behind Benitez where Casey, on the ground, managed to sweep home a shot into the vacated net.

"There's always mistakes in the game, you just hope they don't end up in the back of the net," Hyndman said.

The Rapids followed rival Real Salt Lake as the second consecutive Western Conference-based Eastern Conference champion to win MLS Cup.

For midseason acquisition Brian Mullan, the championship was his fifth. Conversely, for the longtime field general of the team, Mastroeni, and for the majority of the Rapids' roster, the championship was a first.

"This has been a beautiful ride, capping it off with a win," Mastroeni said. "This has been the most exciting day of my professional career."

Added Casey: "I've never won everything ever, and to do it with someone like Pablo, who has had such a storied career and never won and has given so much to the club, no one deserves it more."


  1. Can’t decide if I was more irritated by Toledo’s handling of the physical play or players on both sides bitching after everything.

  2. And the WC Final was a showcase of the beautiful game? W/ all those quality players on the pitch, it still turned into an ugly game with horrible officiating (De Jong should have been sent off)

  3. At halftime, I switched over to check in on the Giants-Eagles game. I’m not a fan of either of those teams, and it wasn’t a very compelling game, but I simply FORGOT to ever go back to watch the second half of the final. Okay, so maybe I have memory issues, but man did that game have soccer issues!

  4. MLS Playoffs = Spoiled leftovers at dinner time. I’m a Chicago Fire fan, but they really shouldv’e just given LA the league title because they had the best record over the 30-game season. The MLS Cup is just a tournament with an additional 4-5 undeserving teams getting a shot at undesrved glory, therefore making the MLS look like a “Mickey Mouse” League where everyone’s dreams may come true if they wish upon a star, like Julian Baudet did last night.

  5. That game was a disgrace. Poor play, even worse officiating. Since when are strikers (say, Kandji) allowed to throw defenders over?. Then there was John Harkes’s commentary.

    A showcase of the beautiful game this was not.

  6. As a Rapids fan, gotta say Im not too thrilled with how we won, but its a win, defense stuck it out and stopped the Dallas attack, playoff format sucked, blah blah blah, but if if anything, watching the look on Pablo’s face when he was handed the trophy was awesome, it was like watching a little kid again, really happy they finally got one for him, he means a lot to the Rapids organization

  7. The half empty stadium looked Mickey Mouse. I think the final should be played at the team that has the highest goal differential during the playoffs and if that’s a tie, then the team with the best regular season record. The idea of neutral sites is a horrid one. MLS is just not big enough yet to pull of a Super Bowl type of situation.

  8. Was the MTLxTOR hockey game the reason the league wanted the final on sunday, as opposed to saturday?

    Lame crowd but that was to be expected with all the Canuckistani indifference (the surrounding festivities/events seemed top-notch, though). About a 1/4 of the crowd bailed after halftime and I’m sure it had more to do with the late kickoff rather than lackluster play.

  9. SAT > SUN

    No more sunday night MLS cups, please. Saturday afternoons/evenings make it much easier for supporters to make travel arrangements. I know a few suporters didnt make the trip because they couldnt get Monday off under such short notice.

  10. As a neutral fan watching, I have to say I actually enjoyed the whole game. But, the vibe in Toronto was sorry. I really hope the higher seeded team can get to play at home from now on. Only the super bowl is big enough to attract fans to a predetermined neutral site. And even then it is mostly rich corporate people there to watch the game. I mean, why would anyone in Toronto care to watch to western teams play? and apparently they didn’t.

  11. Agree, little upset that Colorado won. They won by the ball bouncing their way…literaly…FCD kept most posession and for me dominated. They are just a funner team to watch, than the boring long ball and counter attack tactics of Colorado. Just compare in the manner both teams got to the final…that speaks for itself.

  12. Pizza Hut Park just needs a few upgrades even though it is only 5 years old. How about an overhead roof? I mean, if MLS is going to insist on Dallas playing in the summer during the afternoon when it is 100+ degrees, some shade would be nice for the few fans willing to brave that. Actually, night games during summer for hot climate teams and a roof anyways?

  13. I got home from the game at 1:00am on a Sunday night and i drove, if i’d taken public transit it would’ve been 2:00am. I don’t blame anyone for leaving early if they had to go to work the next day, considering how poor the game was.

  14. “I can’t believe all the whining.”

    No kidding. I don’t hear this much of it when my son’s U14 team fails to get a better result. (Thankfully!)

    And it’s rather embarrassing for this league and the sport in terms of its image and so forth in the US when you compare such a reaction to the more level-headed and wisened-with-age sort of reaction of fans of other sports in the country…

  15. Sucks, Dallas deserved to win they played the better game and got hosed by bad ref calls and two crappy goals. 10 teams make playoffs next year? Jesus Christ MLS!! What next the 6th seed wins the title next year!!

  16. Not on Saturdays, when most of the games are played. If you can’t get from Downtown Dallas to Frisco in less than 30 minutes on a Saturday, then you’re riding a bicycle. The location sucks, but it’s not like it’s in Sherman

  17. In defense of Toronto, last years final atmosphere at quest was no better even with more fans. No one cared and because the game was scheded for late Sunday night we all wanted to leave when it was tied in regulation. And the quality was no
    Ore memorable between LA and RSL.

    Not sure what the motive was for 10 team playoffs.
    Maybe mls wants to ensure as many larger
    Markets make it into the post season

  18. Mac Kandji awkwardly charges right at an defender in the box, instigates a flukey goal, and promptly gets injured and has to leave the game. Yup, that’s the Mac Kandji I remember from the Red Bulls.

  19. I can’t believe all the whining. Great soccer it wasn’t. But then the first final (DCU over LAG in Boston in the freezing rain) was ugly and gutty. This was a close match in conditions that lended themselves to a lot of running around, poor touches, physical play, direct soccer. I’ve lost track of the number of finals (including WC finals–played in far better conditions) that were just butt-ugly soccer but were notable b/c of who was playing and what it took to get there.

    Congrats to Colorado on winning. They didn’t do this with smoke and mirrors but fairly. Congrats to FCD on an outstanding season and making the final. Unless they lose a critical piece like Ferreira or Hernandez or Hartmann, you have to like their chances again…young team, attractive style–they’re only going to get better.

    Now, here’s the bad news–later today, some of the players on both of these teams are going to find that they’re expansion bait (I wouldn’t be surprised if Kandji is one of those players). Always a tough transition–final in one breathe and “thanks but don’t let the door hit ya on the way out” the next.


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