Smith: We are the underdogs, not Dallas

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas
seem to be jockeying for position as to who is the biggest underdog and most unfashionable
team heading into MLS Cup this weekend.

Indeed, when it was suggested in a
Monday conference call that FCD were, atypically, no longer the underdog, head
coach Schellas Hyndman balked at the suggestion.

“We don’t like [not being the underdogs],” Hyndman said.
“That’s a little unusual for us.”

Unusual though it may be, Rapids head coach Gary Smith isn't letting his counterpart get away with that one.

“You can’t be Coach of the Year, you can’t win 3-0 away from
home [against the LA in the conference final] and you can’t break all the records they have and still be underdogs,”
Smith said on Tuesday. “It can’t happen. If he comes out and says I shouldn’t have
been Coach of the Year, we shouldn’t have won 3-0 away from home and, by the
way, all those records are a joke, then he can use the underdog tag. They aren’t [underdogs], we are. We have to be. There is no way they can be underdogs.”

Smith’s claim received a boost from an unlikely source on
Sunday after the Western Conference Championship: FCD captain Daniel Hernandez.
After the team’s comprehensive 3-0 victory over the LA Galaxy on Sunday,
Hernandez said, “no disrespect to the Eastern Conference, but tonight was the
championship.”

“I put that up on the board,” Smith countered. “The players
were very interested in it. It’s almost as if we were immaterial.”

FC Dallas’ road to MLS Cup went through Real Salt Lake and
the Galaxy, the two top point-getters in the league, and also compiled an MLS
record 19-game unbeaten streak during the regular season.

“The way they are speaking, we may as well not turn up,” Smith
said. “We’ll just get changed, walk out onto the field and they can just raise
the cup. The way they have played, the way they dismantled LA, has to make them
favorites. But we are more than capable of beating them. I have no lack of
confidence in what this team can produce.”

But formations, talent and MVP candidate David Ferreira
aside, the playoffs have proven that anything can happen. So who will win MLS
Cup?

“It will be the team that grits their teeth and gets on with
it,” Smith said.

Underdog or not.

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