By JOSE M. ROMERO
TORONTO — George John could only sit at his locker and stare into space, trying to forget every defender's nightmare that he'd just experienced moments earlier.
In a sullen and quiet, almost puzzled FC Dallas locker room, where all players and staff could do was sit or stand and not move, John tried to find the words to explain what happened in the 107th minute of Sunday night's MLS Cup.
Dallas lost 2-1 to the Colorado Rapids after regulation time and two overtime periods at BMO Field, the Rapids getting the game-winning goal on an own goal by John, who deflected Macoumba Kandji's shot past goalkeeper Kevin Hartman as Hartman got in position for a save.
"Just kind of one of those plays," John said. "I don't really know what to say about it. Cost us the season. Cost us the Cup."
Of course, John was just doing his job, trying to clear the ball from the goal area, and Kandji had gotten by two other FCD defenders, Jair Benitez and Ugo Ihemelu. Kandji still had a tough angle shot with the imposing John in his way, but fired away. The ball caromed off John's leg and far out of Hartman's reach.
Immediately after the goal, John buried his face in his hands. On the big screen at the stadium, he had a look of stunned bewilderment, yet the game wasn't yet over. There remained some 12 minutes in the second overtime, plus subsequent injury time.
"I was in shock when it happened. It just seemed unreal to me," John said. "I tried to compose myself as well as I could and get up the field and help my team out."
John, pushed forward to help get an equalizer, took a quality shot on goal that Rapids keeper Matt Pickens saved. He also misfired on a header, two chances in the closing moments to atone for the own goal.
It wasn't to be, nor was it for FC Dallas, who took a 1-0 lead in the first half but couldn't make it stand.
"We didn't sit back by any means," Hartman said. "You saw throughout the game we had eight to nine guys going forward trying to get things for us. They (the Rapids) were able to kind of battle and block some shots and clear some shots off the line… We just weren't able to get the bounces."
Hartman said John was doing his best to prevent a cross from Kandji when the decisive goal happened.
"I feel so bad for him, because I really think he's one of the best center backs in the league and it's unlucky that the bounce occurred the way that it did," Hartman said. "Certainly he has nothing to be ashamed of."
FC Dallas played aggressively, marking the Rapids' big target Conor Casey with all four defenders at different times. Casey, a burly forward who exerts his will often, heard it from Benitez and holding midfielder Daniel Hernandez, as if they were telling him they weren't afraid to be physical. That didn't stop Casey from scoring the tying goal in the 57th minute.
Still, FC Dallas was in control of possession of the ball and attacked Colorado's goal with regularity late in the second half. But Pickens and the right-place, right-time defenders didn't allow another goal after David Ferreira's in the 35th minute.
"I thought we fought and we limited their chances," Ihemelu said. "We gave away a couple of unfortunate opportunities that they capitalized on."