Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Colorado - Dallas: 2002

Colorado and Dallas finished equal on points in 2002 and were matched up in the first round of the playoffs. Dallas, by virtue of their 2-1-1 record against the Rapids in the regular season, had home field advantage in the 3 game series. Game 1 at the Cotton Bowl did not go well for Colorado. Carlos 'El Pibe' Valderrama scored after 2 minutes but the game was all Dallas after that. Steve Morrow, who now oversees international partnerships (including the one with the Rapids) for Arsenal, scored first followed by now FSL coach Jason Kreis, Chad Deering, and Antonio Martinez. Rapids Gallery of Honor inductee John Spencer (now the coach of the Portland Timbers) got one back in stoppage time but Dallas took the 3 points for this one.

3 days later the teams met again at Invesco Field with a completely different result. While the first game featured 6 goals this one had just a single score. Chris Carrieri (currently playing for the USL-2 Richmond Kickers) scored in the 78th minute to level the series and force a deciding game 3 back at the Cotton Bowl 4 days later.

Game 3 started much like game 1 with a quick goal. This time it was Dallas' Bobby Rhine (still working in the front office of FC Dallas) putting Dallas in the lead in the 6th minute. Colorado would strike back 16 minutes later as John Spencer would get his second of the playoffs. The two teams would battle for the rest of the game but neither could break through, forcing an overtime session to settle the series. In one of the shortest overtimes (MLS used the Golden Goal rule until the end of the 2002 season) Colorado's Mark Chung scored in the first minute to send the series and send Colorado through to the Conference Finals. Colorado lost that series to LA in 2 games by a combined score of 5-0.

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