Saturday, October 9, 2010
FCD hosts Rapids, closes in on record run
By ESPN.com news services
FC Dallas has a pair of opportunities to move into one of the Western Conference's top playoff positions over the season's final two weekends as it visits the two teams above it in the standings.
It seems unlikely that Dallas will be looking ahead.
Coach Schellas Hyndman's club can set the record for the longest single-season unbeaten streak in MLS history, and striker Jeff Cunningham tries to become the league's all-time leading goal scorer in a matchup with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
Dallas (12-2-13) hasn't lost since May 20, a 10-0-8 stretch that's put it into contention for one of the West's top two playoffs seeds, especially with its remaining games coming at conference-leading Los Angeles and second-place Real Salt Lake.
Last Saturday's 3-0 win over Chicago clinched the team's first playoff berth since 2007, and Dallas also matched the 2004 Columbus Crew for the league's longest stretch without a loss.
"What a great night for FC Dallas," Hyndman said. "We worked so hard in the last two years to be in this position, to clinch a playoff spot and I've lost a lot of sleep. ... The words I always used, we wanted to develop a culture of winning and I think we have that here now."
One of the league's most consistent scorers has had a lot to do with that, even while coming off the bench since May 8.
Cunningham converted a penalty kick last weekend for his MLS record-tying 132nd goal. He has scored in three straight games to give him 11 goals on the season.
"It's unbelievable," midfielder Dax McCarty said. "He's just a great goal scorer, there's no other way to put it. He works really hard in training, and he's kind of found his niche for us, coming in the second half when other teams are tired, and he really takes advantage of it."
Cunningham will be eager to get on the field to take aim at breaking the record he shares with D.C. United veteran Jaime Moreno, while Colorado (11-8-8) is in an interesting position as far as its playoff possibilities are concerned.
The Rapids are fifth in the West and seventh overall despite falling 1-0 at home to league-worst D.C. last Saturday. They're a point behind Seattle for fourth in the conference but may be better off staying where they are. Assuming the final two playoff qualifiers come from the West, they'll get shipped to the weaker East playoff bracket.
Not that Colorado is planning it that way.
"I think we're in a good spot," midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. "I think that all three games coming up are winnable games, and I think we're poised to do it. (Last Saturday) was disappointing but I think it's a bit of a slap in the face for us and a wakeup call and it will get us going again."
These teams played to a 1-all draw in Colorado on July 31.