Henry Bushnell
Sunday October 23rd, 2016

For the first time in its 21-year history, FC Dallas has won MLS’s Supporters’ Shield.

Dallas clinched the regular season crown Sunday with a 0-0 draw in Los Angeles against the Galaxy. The result put Dallas on 60 points, and was enough to hold off the Colorado Rapids, who tied the Houston Dynamo 1-1 at home.

It’s the first MLS trophy in the history of the club, which was one of the league’s 10 charter members in 1996.

The Supporters’ Shield title also puts Dallas three playoff rounds away from a historic treble. No club has ever won the U.S. Open Cup, Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup in the same season. Dallas won the Open Cup back in September with a robust 4-2 victory over the New England Revolution. The final stage, the gauntlet that is the MLS playoffs, will begin next Sunday for the West’s top seed. Should FC Dallas reach MLS Cup, it would host the final by virtue of having the best record.

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Dallas was playing catch-up for the Shield heading into the penultimate weekend of the season. But Colorado’s 1-0 loss at Portland last Sunday left the window ajar, and Dallas snuck through. With Seattle leading 1-0 in Frisco in the 79th minute, Maxi Urruti pounced on a goal-mouth scramble to equalize. Veteran striker Carlos Ruiz, who signed with Dallas in mid-September, then stole three points with an 89th-minute winner.

The final day was just as tense, even if not as dramatic. Heading into the day on 59 points, Dallas manager Oscar Pareja knew that a loss in L.A. and a Colorado win would cede the Shield to his former club.

There was relief for Dallas midway through the first half of the simultaneous games when Dynamo winger Andrew Wenger ghosted in at the back post to tap in a rebound and put the Rapids behind.

But Colorado’s Shkelzen Gashi equalized in the 67th minute, making Dallas’s table-topping place more tenuous. One goal in each game could have swung things towards the Rapids. Dallas, however, held on for the 0-0 draw, and the Rapids couldn’t find a second, leaving Dallas to celebrate in L.A.

Dallas’ treble hopes were prematurely dampened a week ago, however, when top playmaker Mauro Diaz ruptured his Achilles late on in the win over Seattle.

Another key member of the Supporters’ Shield-winning squad, Fabian Castillo, departed for Trabzonspor in Turkey in August, on loan at least until January.

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This is a deep Dallas team, though, and one that has been building towards this year’s success for some time. It finished tied atop last year’s joint table, but lost out on the Shield on goal differential to the New York Red Bulls (it's the first MLS team to post consecutive 60-point seasons). It then fell in thrilling fashion in the conference finals to Portland.

Colorado’s run at history of its own this season fell just short. The Rapids finished at the bottom of the Western Conference last year on 37 points. Since MLS expanded beyond 12 teams, no team had ever won the Supporters’ Shield a year after finishing last in its respective conference. That streak lives on.

Dallas’s title leaves Colorado and New England as the only two MLS originals to have never won a Supporters' Shield.

Both Dallas and Colorado clinched byes in the playoffs, which begin with one-off knockout round games Wednesday and Thursday. 

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