Last night FC Dallas came into the Home Depot Center, home of the Supporter's Shield winning Los Angeles Galaxy and walked out with a 3-0 win, a Western Conference Championship trophy and a berth in MLS Cup in Toronto where they'll face the Colorado Rapids.
Dallas, playing in MLS Cup for the first time in team history, soundly beat the Galaxy using a devastating counter attack led by David Ferreira, the frontrunner for MLS MVP, and resolute defending centered by a fit again George John. FCD rode their luck a bit in the first 20 minutes, giving the Galaxy some chances off silly turnovers but the game was turned on its head in the 26th minute.
The Galaxy were never the same after that. Any realistic hopes of a Galaxy comeback were extinguished late in the first half when Dema Kovalenko put in a hard challenge on Marvin Chavez in what should have earned him a second yellow. As one person put it last night in the middle of screams at the referee "It's ok, Dema has been neutered, one more foul and he's off."
Without Kovalenko having his ability to tactically foul and break up plays, 1-nil became 2-nil, 2-nil became 3-nil and FCD fans, used to playoff heartache at every turn, didn't even have to sweat the last 15 minutes en route to their first Western Conference championship.
-Again, a full team effort from every player on the field. Six players on the field with a goal or an assist last night, what a remarkable number. Absolutely incredible all the way around, this is the best game the franchise has ever played.
-Who's the master? Coach Schellas. Absolutely spot on tactics that I personally questioned when I saw the lineup. Atiba Harris has been pretty poor this season when played as a lone striker, but the bus driver has turned into the Formula 1 driver and got it absolutely correct with the lineup decision. Harris had a huge hand in the first two goals, goals that probably don't happen if the ball falls to Jeff Cunningham.
More observations including the thing that makes the win even sweeter for me, quotes and links!
-Think anyone isn't on the bus now? Last night was the culmination of two years of hard work for Schellas Hyndman pounding his system into the heads of his team. It's not always glamorous and it's not easy, but right now don't you think players like Ricchetti, and Van Den Bergh are sitting at home thinking "Damn the SOB was right."
-FC Dallas made it to MLS Cup the right way. This is what makes it even sweeter for me, the fact that no one can question whether the little team from Dallas deserves to be on the big stage. Dallas could have crumbled at many points, but as we've seen all season they played with a distinct style that doesn't change at home or on the road. They've proved themselves at every step going to the two toughest places in the league to get a result and passed the test with flying colors....however...
-It just has to be Colorado in the final doesn't it...In a season of exorcising FC Dallas demons in Houston, Los Angeles etc... It seems poetic justice that the final hurdle is against the FC Dallas playoff bugaboo Colorado Rapids. Not that anyone other than Dax or Dario has a recollection of the woes that Dallas has had against Colorado, but for the fans this is the rightful ending. Colorado is going to be extremely tough and feeling right at home in the cold weather, but at this point who can really count out FCD?
6:55 tonight Terminal D at DFW Airport....see ya there
Lots and lots of stuff out there, just picked a few
Simon Borg writes for MLSSoccer.com that Ferreira was once again the difference
“When Marvin touched the ball to me, all I had on my mind was to shoot,” Ferreira said of his first career MLS playoff goal. “I hit it with my right foot and found the opening. That settled us down. I was dreaming of scoring today and we did it. We managed the game from there and got the win.”
Jeff Carlisle for ESPN says Kevin Hartman was the key to victory
"It could have easily been 1-0, 2-0 in favor of the Galaxy, everybody saw that," said Dallas captain Daniel Hernandez. "But Hartman makes great plays and keeps us in games, and honestly, that's been the difference for us all year."
Luis Bueno writes for MLSSoccer.com that the early goal changed the game
“Not just us, but in our league, the team who scores first more or less wins the game,” Landon Donovansaid. “It’s difficult when the other team scores first early because a lot of teams in this league play well on the counterattack.”
And the other two goals?
Simon Borg also writes that Schellas Hyndman surprised LA with the lineup change
“I think we caught them by surprise by going with Atiba Harris in the attack,” Hyndman said. “I don’t think they were ready for Atiba Harris and Atiba had a very good game.
“We thought that Omar [Gonzalez] would have a little more problems with Atiba because he is big, strong and physical. I think that Atiba surprised us all how well he held the ball under pressure.”
If you're interested in going to Toronto and want to fly into Buffalo/drive the 1.5 hours to Toronto(flights are $500+ cheaper to Buffalo) please go to this thread on the Inferno message board and say that you're interested.
FC Dallas 2010 Western Conference Champions....unbelievable