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MLS Cup '06: Soccer America Report Card
November 12th, 2006 10:44PM

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HOUSTON 1 NEW ENGLAND 1 (Houston wins 4-3 on penalties.)

PLAYER RATINGS
(1-low; 5-average; 10-high)

New England: Reis 6, Heaps 5, Parkhurst 6, John 6, Dorman 5, Ralston 6, Hernandez 5, Joseph 6, Franchino 6, Noonan 5, Twellman 6. Subs: Smith 6, Dempsey 6, Larentowicz NR.

Houston: Onstad 6, Barrett 6, Robinson 6, Cochrane 6, Waibel 6, Serioux 6, Davis 5, Mullan 5, DeRosario 6, Ching 7, Dalglish 4. Subs: Moreno 4, Gray 6, Holden NR.

GAME ANALYSIS

Both teams were deprived of vital starters. Adrian Serioux filled for suspended Houston midfielder Ricardo Clark. Revs attacker Clint Dempsey conceded his place to Andy Dorman, with Revs coach Steve Nicol using Daniel Hernandez and Shalrie Joseph in the middle.

The Revs lacked precision in the final pass and for much of the match couldn't keep possession. Joseph won numerous balls but few of them were smartly exploited. Dorman triggered several promising sequences, including a wide ball to Joey Franchino for a perfect cross that Taylor Twellman headed strongly but too close to Houston keeper Pat Onstad, who saved it. Dorman also pushed forward up the middle and fired a shot that was deflected for a corner.

Houston nearly scored in the first minute, when midfielder Brad Davis raced to the back post and shot into the side netting from a sharp angle. The Dynamo controlled most of the play for the first 20 minutes; the rest of the first half was even and not particularly crisp. Dwayne DeRosario fired a low, first-time shot that Matt Reis pushed past the near post late in the half, after Onstad's reflex save thwarted Twellman, and Brian Mullan fired way over the bar from the edge of the box to squander good service from Wade Barrett.

Houston changed from its traditional 4-4-2 late in the first half, pushing into a 3-5-2 to combat New England more effectively in midfield. Stalemate ensued. Dempsey's insertion for Dorman in the 62nd minute livened up the game at both ends; Onstad stopped a shot from Steve Ralston and Dempsey just failed to reach a ball Pat Noonan drove within two yards of the far post. Matt Reis stood his ground to block a point-blank shot that reached Barrett after Brian Ching had whiffed on it.

Nicol had sent on Khano Smith early in the second half yet Houston kept his rampaging runs up the left flank fairly well contained until the 112th minute, when he came inside and played a great through ball that Twellman let bounce off his ankle before firing it low just inside the far post. Right from the kickoff, Mullan pushed up the right and his cross deflected off Avery John and Ching peeled away from Jay Heaps to head it in.




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