To kick off our MLS Cup 2010 Preview, I am pleased to share that we will be live blogging the match on this site Sunday night beginning at 8:30 PM Eastern. For those of us not in Toronto, please visit this site to share thoughts on the two teams, ESPN’s coverage, or the warmth of your home as opposed to those at the stadium.
On Sunday night, two American teams will invade a Canadian pitch to resolve which is the best team in Major League Soccer. Oddly enough, only one player on either roster is actually Canadian – FC Dallas defender Edson Edward, who was born in Ottawa. BMO Field previously hosted the 2008 MLS All Star Game, so it is not a stranger to large MLS matches. In honor of Canada’s national winter sport (hockey), below is a breakdown of the match up face-off style.
Dallas Attack vs. Colorado Defense: Anyone who has followed any bit of the playoffs knows the Dallas attack starts with David Ferreira. The key to stopping the Dallas attack is stopping the presumptive MLS MVP, which no team in the playoffs has done so far. The Rapids duo of Mastroeni and Larentowicz are next up, and their contribution will be critical to the Rapids’ game plan. Of course the Dallas attack does not stop with Ferreira; the midfield duo of Dax McCarty and Brek Shea are also playmakers who can threaten the Colorado defense. Despite a 1-0 win in their last match and a solid keeper in Matt Pickens, they will be hard pressed to slow down a high-powered Dallas attack. Advantage – Dallas
Colorado Attack v. Dallas Defense: The Dallas defense can be summed up in one word – Hartman. The keeper has been unworldly in the regular season and especially in the playoffs; his first-half saves against the Galaxy kept the momentum with the visiting team. His back line will have a hard time containing the best forwards in MLS, especially Omar Cummings on the wing. If Kevin Hartman wasn’t in goal, I’d give this advantage to the speed and skill of the Rapids. But until the Dallas keeper proves me wrong, I’ll bet on him to keep this category even. Advantage: Push
Hyndman v. Smith: Again, it’s tough to bet against the MLS Coach of the Year. Hyndman’s gameplan against the Galaxy was excellent, using the speed of his team to exploit weaknesses in LA defense. Gary Smith is also a good manager, but usually excellent beats good. Advantage: Dallas
Intangibles: My initial thought is that Colorado would be better equipped to play in a cold match, but they lost their only visit to Canada this year while Dallas drew FC Toronto 1-1. Neither club has won a championship, so that is a push. But their roads to Toronto have been very different. Colorado overcame a scrappy Columbus team and a solid San Jose team to make it this far. Dallas beat the defending champions and the Supporters Shield winners. Advantage: Dallas
Prediction: Dallas looks to have the upper hand in the matchup, but Colorado is a very talented team. I expect a back-and-forth match with Dallas pulling away in the end. Dallas wins 3-1.