The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is back in the homeland of Lamar Hunt. Dallas FC won emphatically on Tuesday, beating the New England Revolution 4-2. The Texans are also the best team in the MLS this season with 51 points so far and a leading 1.76 points per game.
Can Dallas win the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS cup, becoming the first American team to win the domestic treble?
If they play like they did on Tuesday, sure! Nobody can stop them when Mauro Diaz is dropping dimes from all over the pitch and Maximiliano Urruti is getting the ball in the back of the net.
But if history has anything to say, absolutely not! Nobody has won a treble in the United States since Brookhattan back in 1945. Two of those championships, for the American Soccer League and the related Lewis Cup, don’t exist anymore. In fact the Lewis Cup is in Kyiv, Ukraine. The United States is very big and has a lot of parity and there is no guarantee that the best team wins.
There is no real doubt that FC Dallas is the best team in MLS this year. Mauro Diaz has been healthy, Carlos Gruezo has been the chillest d-mid in the league and Matt Hedges is making a name for himself. Dallas has weathered ‘keeper Jesse Gonzalez falling off of his great 2015 form because Chris Seitz, previously best known for donating bone marrow to a complete stranger, has been the athletic stopper he was billed as while he was winning championships at Maryland.
Fabian Castillo wanders off to Turkey’s Black Sea coast? About a month later, Carlos Ruiz comes back to the MLS as a 37-year-old man with a tractor-trailer full of evil tricks to deploy on hapless fullbacks. He will ruin days in slow motion and grind out excruciating wins — which was maybe the one thing Dallas was missing all year.
Is it enough to win the Supporters’ Shield? Probably. Dallas has a tough schedule left, with two games against the Landon Donovan-ful LA Galaxy as well as Seattle, Salt Lake and this Saturday at the Bandbox in the Bronx against NYCFC. Dallas’ closest rivals for the Shield, Colorado, have two games against: Portland, Houston and San Jose as well as a visit to Vancouver. It’s a much easier road, but Colorado has many more questions: Jermaine Jones’ health, Shkelzen Gashi’s position, and whether or not Marlon Hairston is truly the Next Big Thing. Since Colorado’s opponents are still at least nominally scrambling for position, it could be tough for the Rapids to grind out wins.
The playoffs? Well, who the heck knows about the playoffs. It’s structured to be a bit of a random number generator, and Dallas only needs one muddy pitch or one freezing night in Commerce City, Colo. in order to scuff their chances. Toronto is not bad at all as the cream of the Eastern Conference — if there is any player more magical than Mauro Diaz, it is Sebastian Giovinco. And Jozy Altidore, 2016 version, has no easy equivalent.
Someone could argue with a straight face that the stars have aligned for FC Dallas to do the thing that hasn’t been done for 71 years in the United States. There are plenty of hurdles in their path, but nothing of the scale of Fabian Castillo leaving or Jesse Gonzalez being a normie.
Their match at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night should be one to watch. Dallas’ stars may be a bit burned out after the Tuesday match, particularly in the back. How they will deal with Jack Harrison’s speed, Tommy McNamara’s touch and David Villa’s red-hot seething intensity will be an open question. Mauro Diaz probably won’t start for Dallas, and it might be tough for them to avoid a letdown game.
And meanwhile, Colorado gets to host the increasingly-lost San Jose Earthquakes. It’s an opportunity to make up points on a napping Dallas side.
But Dallas hasn’t been caught asleep all year so far, and it seems unlikely that they’ll start in September. Oscar Pareja’s squad is the best one ever assembled in Texas, all apologies to Dominic Kinnear’s surly Houston Dynamo squads. They’ve been able to keep it together all summer. Why should they stop now?
This post was composed by freelance writer and swell guy, Asher Kohn. Reach out to him and discuss all the soccer happenings from around the world on Twitter at:@AJKhn. Catch up with all of the latest soccer happenings on SiriusXM FC.