The MLS Cup Experience by: Roy Tewell – Rapids Staff Member/ FC Denver Player
where to start….
The Rapids Front Office had got a charter flight for the entire team (players & coaching staff), front office, plus players’ families, girlfriends, etc. We took off Thursday morning from the Signature terminal at DIA and were off to Toronto. Talk about a nice flight, all the sandwiches, candy, drinks, etc that you could want. It was great to see how focused the team was even on the flight as they had the front of the plane while staff/families occupied the back.
We’ll skip Thursday thru Saturday as that was filled with league parties and site seeing, and head straight to Sunday. We got over to BMO field around 5:45 or so and went directly to a bar in the area that the Toronto FC Supporters had reserved in honor of the traveling Colorado Rapids supporters. The place was filled with Burgundy jerseys, t-shirts, scarves, hat, flags etc, and also a large contingent of TFC supporters as well. The drinks were flowing and so was the atmosphere as each supporter’s group sang their songs and chants for the match, the best of which was when the TFC fans broke out into their Marvell Wynne chant which during the game was added inspiration. As the match drew closer, the Bulldog, Class VI, and Pid Army supporters departed for the stadium march as staffers held back to get those last few drinks of inspiration.
We made our way to BMO field, in all reality a glorified high school stadium, but packs the atmosphere of a large European football match. As we enter the stadium, the place is buzzing, and for me personally having worked at FC Dallas 3 years prior to working in Colorado, this match had added emotion. I see a few old co-workers and make our way up to Section 226 in the upper corner. As the national anthems are sung by everyone in the crowd, nerves take over. 35 minutes into the game, the ball gets whipped in and FC Dallas scores, SH*T! I see them run to the corner and celebrate as the Rapids get the ball and bring it back to midfield. (This is the best): As odd as it sounds, I have had a feeling about our team all year that regardless what the score was, our guys could make it back and come back in match. The halftime whistle blows and we head down to the concourse.
For the 2nd half we (my mom and Kirsten plus college teammate from Toronto) decide there is only one section to be in, and that is with the supporters. Our entire front office staff, supporters and Rapids fans alike are now seated behind the North Goal, in full embrace looking to the far end. 57 minutes in and we see the ball in front of the box, and all of a sudden it is in! As the Rapids song goes, “put the ball into the net — and we will all go mental“, and that is exactly what happened. I may have blacked out when we scored, but I know that we were all hugging one another in celebration. As the match goes on, the tension builds and finally the whistle blows… indicating we are heading to overtime.
As OT arrives and we see Mac Kandji coming in I get a good feeling that this is it. The way our guys are playing, the support of our fans, it is going to propel us to victory. As the 1st overtime period ends, we continue to believe in an elusive goal that will bring us the trophy. As the ball gets diagonally-played across field by Casey, Mac efficiently brings the ball down to his feet, beats Benitez with a timely meg and lunges to get a glancing direction on the ball. We watched… Will it go in? Is it wide? We see the net move; WE HAVE SCORED!! (I get chills as I write this even because) Our entire section goes crazy, we are going to get the cup!
For the next 10 minutes we stand like a wall behind our goalkeeper Matt Pickens as he makes save after save, and with three minutes of stoppage to go he makes the save of a lifetime. George John turns and hit a low driven ball towards the corner – destined to take the game to PK’s, and then JESUS SAVES! There are a few more close instances where Dallas comes close to scoring, and then one of them (Flick-on by Dax) goes over the bar. Pickens collects the ball, places it for the goal kick, could this be it?? The ball goes in the air and we see the referee’s whistle blow, cue the madness! Our section erupts, I hug my mom and Kirsten, while our entire section is overwhelmed with emotion. There is not a dry eye in the entire section as the players celebrate in front of us with the trophy.
To try and recap what that day was like is near impossible,
but I do hope that by sharing this experience that you can gain a feeling of what is was like to be in Toronto on Championship Sunday as the Rapids accomplished the impossible. For Denver sports fans, this is something we all share, and I can only hope that this continues to grow the sport of soccer in our thriving community. For all those that play the game, continue to work to follow and support this sport in Denver, WE ARE ALL MLS CUP CHAMPIONS!
LETS.GO.RAPIDS! LETS. GO!