1997 Club by Club
The Burn finished the 1997 regular season with a record of 16-16, going 8-8 both at home as well as on the road, the 16 wins being one fewer than 1996. Dallas was 12-6 when scoring the first goal and 4-10 when conceding the first goal and they were 7-12 in games decided by one goal including a 3-2 record in shootouts. Dallas went 4-0 in May, the first undefeated month in team history as they hit top form at the start of the year.
The Burn set or tied several club records during the 1997 season, goalkeeper Mark Dodd's 183 saves set a team and league record, surpassing his previous best of 161 set in 1996. The 240 shots he faced tied 1996's record.
Alain Sutter set a team record for most assists in a season with eight, surpassing Elliott's and Diego Sonora's previous record of seven set in 1996. Sutter also set a team record for most consecutive games with an assist with three. The previous record was two consecutive games set by Ted Eck and Mark Santel in 1996. Dante Washington registered team highs for points in a game (6) and shots on goal in a game (6) vs. Colorado on Apr. 20. In that same game, he tied team records for goals in a game (2) and assists in a game (2).
The big news of the season was still to come, as the Burn became the only MLS team beside D.C. United to win a major championship, topping defending champion United, 1-0 on penalty kicks, to claim the US Open Cup.
The championship game against United, who was coming off its second consecutive MLS championship just three days earlier, was played Oct. 29 in Indianapolis, Indiana. After 120 minutes of hard-fought, goal-less soccer, the Burn claimed its first major title with a 5-3 penalty kick triumph. Jorge Rodriguez clinched the victory with the Burn's fifth consecutive penalty kick tally. Raul Diaz Arce missed D.C. United's second attempt to provide the margin of victory.
The individual accolades continued to flood in, as midfielder Alain Sutter was named MLS Player of the month for May in recognition of his impact in leading the Burn to a 4-0 month following his addition to the squad. In addition to scoring the game-winning goal in the Burn's May 23 win at Tampa Bay, the playmaking Swiss international orchestrated a potent attack that hit the back of the net nine times in the four-win month.
Following an MLS debut on May 17 which saw him score one goal and assist on the game-winner in only 64 minutes of action, Damian was awarded MLS Player of the Week honors. Not to be outdone, fellow forward Dante Washington nabbed the player of the week award two times. On Jul. 18, Washington registered the first hat trick in team history in Dallas' 3-1 win over San Jose to win the award for the second time on the year. He was recognized the first time following his two-goal, two-assist outburst vs. the Colorado Rapids on Apr. 20.
The Burn had a team-record six players representing the Western Conference in the MLS All-Star Game on Jul. 9. Mark Dodd, Diego Sonora, Alain Sutter, Damian and Dante Washington were starters in the game. Washington played the entire first half, scoring the first goal of the game. Dodd played 58 minutes, making five saves, several of the spectacular variety, while conceding only one goal. Sonora played the entire game, assisting on Washington's goal, Sutter played just 35 minutes while Damian played the first half, registering an assist on the West's second goal. Mark Santel played the entire second half.
For the second straight year, Dallas’ goalkeeper Mark Dodd made his mark as one of the top goalies in the league,
In only 30 games in 1997, Dodd surpassed last year's MLS record for saves in a season by 22, in 31 games in 1996, he set the MLS record of 161 saves. His 183 saves was 36 more than Tony Meola, who finished second in the league in that category. The shot stopper also led the league in catches/punches with 143, 26 more than Meola, who ranked second again. Dodd averaged 3.8 saves per goal allowed, and 6.1 saves per game, both league-highs in another remarkable season for the last-line of defense.
The Burn offense, which score three or more goals in a game on nine different occasions, finished the 1997 regular season tied for third in the league in goals, averaging 1.72 goals per game. The defense, which held the opposition to one goal or less in 16 games, finished the season third in the league, conceding only 1.53 goals per game.