DC United an MLS dynasty in the making

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The Independent Online

Major League Soccer might soon have to ask itself whether DC United, which has never missed an MLS Cup while winning three titles, is hurting the sport by dominating the competition so completely.

Major League Soccer might soon have to ask itself whether DC United, which has never missed an MLS Cup while winning three titles, is hurting the sport by dominating the competition so completely.

"I'm not worried about it," MLS commissioner Don Garber said on Sunday after DC won its third Cup in four years with a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy. "But I think that our fans would like to see another team give them a good run."

So, it's not time to break up DC, yet?

"That's why they're called the United," Garber joked.

In a rematch of the inaugural title game, Jaime Moreno scored first, and Ben Olsen made it 2-0 by halftime when he took advantage of a rare mistake by MLS goalkeeper of the year Kevin Hartman for a virtual empty-netter.

For the Galaxy, it was an insurmountable deficit - especially with MLS defender of the year Robin Fraser leaving in the sixth minute with a broken collarbone.

"They took advantage of our mistakes," Los Angeles coach Sigi Schmid said. "DC is an outstanding team and they are worthy champions."

Schmid had five players on his roster left over from the rain-soaked 1996 game, when Los Angeles took a two-goal lead before losing 3-2 on Eddie Pope's header in overtime. But Schmid only took over the struggling Galaxy six games into this season - leading them to the league's best record and coach of the year honors.

Next year, he hopes, things will be different.

"We want to be in contention next year to return here and definitely walk away with a better result," he said.

But to do so, they'll have to figure out how to beat United. In four years, only the Chicago Fire has done that, winning last year's MLS Cup 2-0.

DC beat the Colorado Rapids 2-1 in 1997.

"It's obviously a dynasty," Galaxy forward Cobi Jones said. "It's disappointing for us, but it's great for them. They're showing they're a dominant force in the MLS."

But the Washington players aren't ready to proclaim themselves the league's first dynasty.

"We're too young to be a dynasty. We've only won three," said Pope, one of five people to have started in all four MLS Cups. "We're not the Bulls or the Celtics. When we've won five, come back and talk to me."

United may deny it, but they have already developed the swagger of a dynasty. Asked earlier in the week if he was concerned about the Galaxy's league-leading defense, Moreno said, "I don't have to be worried about the defenders. The defenders have to be worried about me."

And, when asked whether the two-goal halftime lead allowed him to adopt a more conservative strategy for the second half, Washington coach Thomas Rongen said, "We don't alter our gameplan very often, regardless of who's on the other side of the ball."

"There's an attitude to win. I think that's half the battle," Rongen said after the victory. "And when you start to win championships early on, it starts to snowball."

Moreno agreed.

"Every young player, when he comes to the team, learns what it means to work hard and to win," he said. "There are a lot of good teams in the league. It's just our team is amazing. And we're just so proud to be a part of it."

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