Rapids finally crowned MLS kings
Colorado's Macoumba Kandji fired a shot that produced an own goal in the 107th minute to give the Rapids a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas in Sunday's Major League Soccer Cup final.
The Senegalese forward eluded a defender near the backline to the left of Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and fired a shot that struck the left knee of defender George John and deflected into the goal to break a 1-1 deadlock. "I just got a chance one-on-one, the ball popped up right in front of me and when I looked up it was in the back of the net," Kandji said. "I don't know what's wrong with my leg now, but it was worth it."
Kandji was injured on the play and went off, leaving the Rapids at ten men to the finish of the second extra-time period, both sides having used all their substitutions earlier. John blasted a hard shot that was batted away by Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens and Colorado defender Drew Moor, a former FC Dallas player, kicked away another bid in the final seconds to deny the equaliser and give the Rapids their first MLS crown in the North American league's 15-year history.
"The guys were knocking balls away there. That's what you have to do at the end when you are holding on," said veteran Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni. "It was a game of very few chances, a 'roll up your sleeves and work' day."
The Rapids lost the 1997 final in their only prior trip to the championship game while the Texas club was making its first appearance in the final, which was played in cold and windy conditions. "We just stuck with it, got a lucky bounce, kept battling and it's ours," said Colorado's Conor Casey, who was named the final's Most Valuable Player.
Dallas striker David Ferreira, an attacking midfielder from Colombia who was voted the MLS regular season Most Valuable Player, opened the scoring in the 35th minute.
Colorado equalised in the 57th minute when USA international Casey flicked a loose ball into the net while on his back as he and Hartman were sprawled on the ground with a defender. "I was trying to find it," Casey said. "I got to it before anybody else did. It was attitude. That was a battle. Not the prettiest game but the squad showed a lot of heart."
MLS commissioner Don Garber said on Sunday that the league will expand its play-off field from eight to ten teams next year and will look into realigning its season to conform with the calendar used by most other nations worldwide. MLS will grow to 18 clubs in 2011 when the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps begin play, with a Montreal team set to join in 2012. Each team will play 34 regular-season games in 2011, four more than 2010.