Every year around this time, MLS fans read the same narrative: team X that just won the U.S. Open Cup could be the first team in history to win the MLS treble.
This year, that team is FC Dallas, who after beating the New England Revolution 4-2 in the U.S. Open Cup final, have now won their first trophy in 19 years. Much like the recent Open Cup champs before them, Dallas is in good standing to secure the other two trophies involved in the mythical treble.
Currently, FC Dallas hold a four-point lead over the second place L.A. Galaxy for the Supporters’ Shield, but it remains to be seen if the Galaxy are actually their biggest competition. The Colorado Rapids are just one point back of the Galaxy, but have two games in hand on Dallas. Additionally, Toronto FC are even on points with the Rapids, but have just one game in hand on Dallas. While FC Dallas are certainly the favorite to take home MLS’ best regular season record, they are not without competition.
The playoffs are, as always in MLS, a crap shoot.
Dallas fans know all too well the miracle it took for them to advance to the Western Conference Finals against Seattle last season, as well as the heartbreak after losing a cold and dreary game against Portland. The playoffs remain the most unpredictable component of the MLS season, but there are quite a few encouraging items for Dallas fans as their team nears the postseason.
The first of those is the youth of the Dallas side. While no team wins without veterans, and FC Dallas certainly have their fair share, the vast majority of this team is in the early stage of their careers. Kellyn Acosta, Mauro Diaz, Maxi Urruti, Michael Barrios, Walker Zimmerman and Carlos Gruezo are 25 or younger. While older teams tend to fade as the MLS season goes on, this youthful FC Dallas team should have no problem playing deep into the fall. Already a young team in 2015, they got even younger for the 2016 campaign, and that should benefit their playoff run.
Furthermore, FC Dallas’ incredible record at home should boost their chances to make a deep run in the playoffs. Should the team secure the top spot in the Western Conference, Dallas will play the second legs of all their playoff matchups in the friendly confines of Toyota Stadium. Dallas is 10-1-4 this season in Frisco, and just secured the Open Cup on their home field. Clearly, this team loves playing in north Texas, and that should be a major boost to them going forward.
Finally, the biggest boost to FC Dallas is the fledgling title hopes of their traditional rivals. The Galaxy have been ravaged by injuries. The Sounders are likely to miss the playoffs. Both Kansas City and Portland have struggled over their past 10 matches. Unless Colorado somehow channels a Cinderella run that almost no one saw coming, it’s hard to imagine any team dethroning Dallas in the West.
While it’s easy to hype up the team that wins the Open Cup as a potential treble winner every year, it’s easy to see exactly why this Dallas team is different. Their youth, home field advantage, and the current state of the Western Conference seemingly create a direct path for FC Dallas to secure two more trophies by the time this season is done.
For a team that has waited 19 years for a trophy, a treble would be nothing short of incredible. If FC Dallas can somehow make MLS history, it would be an incredibly fitting reward for the fans and players that have stuck with the club through their title drought.