America'sRidge Mahoney reporting from MLS Cup '07
] Houston maintained the status quo,
and so did New England. The Dynamo is still a team that can win the final and the Revs aren't. Joseph Ngwenya
and Dwayne DeRosario
scored to erase a 1-0 Revs halftime lead provided by Taylor Twellman
's third playoff goal and retain the MLS Cup, 2-1, before
a crowd of nearly 40,000 at RFK Stadium.
New England is the second team to play in four MLS Cups, and the only team to lose all four. Last year, it surrendered an equalizer 71 seconds
after taking a 1-0 lead in overtime and lost on penalty kicks; this time, it scored in the 20th minute and led for more than half an hour before Houston struck twice in 13 minutes to prolong the
Revs record of futility.
Twellman nailed home a Steve Ralston
header to punctuate an opening period the Revs controlled. Unable to track
forwards Pat Noonan
and Twellman, contain Ralston, or rule the flanks, Houston had more shots in the first half (6-3) but less of the play. When Shalrie Joseph
played a ball to Ralston on the right wing, Houston applied no pressure and Twellman peeled away from his markers to head a classic shot past keeper
Much of the Houston attack in the first half flowed through right back Craig Waibel
midfielder Brad Davis
, with DeRosario breaking free of the Revs midfield shackles only occasionally. While Nate Jaqua
(6-foot-3) was an inviting target, he lacks the goalmouth acumen of the injured Brian Ching
and had trouble shaking loose. Khano Smith
ran rampant up the left flank numerous times and rookie Wells Thompson
more than did his share on the right. New
England's superior pace and tenacity kept Houston pinned in its own half.
Still, Houston did nick a chance or two. Ngwenya, who headed narrowly wide from a Davis cross, and several
balls drifted all the way to the far post, which the Revs mysteriously left unmarked much of the time even after the teams made halftime adjustments. Houston's change of formation to a three-man
back line enabled it to take over midfield.
It was at the far post DeRosario surfaced to collect a partially deflected Mullan cross. His centering ball reached Ngwenya, who mishit a
shot, and when the rebound bounced to him, he drilled it under keeper Matt Reis
The Revs had already retreated in midfield and were unable to
sort out the Dynamo's second-half tactic of keeping Waibel back and overloading attackers to one side. New England's best opportunities in the second half resulted from set plays, and with
the score 1-1, Jeff Larentowicz
pulverized a Ralston corner kick. His fierce header cannoned off Houston keeper Pat
's left leg to dent the Revs' spirit once again.
DeRosario isn't renowned for either affinity or effectiveness heading for goal, but his dispatch
Davis serve - an swinging ball sent in by Davis from the right with his favored left foot - streaked past Reis into the top corner.
Both headed goals arose of clever buildup play, sharp
crossing and even sharper finishing. The game turned on the luck of the bounce in two goalmouth incidents and peripherally, on judgments by referee Alex Prus
who chose not to send off Smith after he'd lunged at Waibel with his head, and ignored at least one drag-down in the penalty area by Avery John
But inescapable is the stark fact the Revs are 0-4 in the final test and Houston, a team shunted east from San Jose by its owner-investor two years ago, has won titles in both of those seasons.
Teams, like individuals, can sometimes be classified into winners and also-rans; both of these teams have found their ways impossible to break. GAME
SUMMARY: MLS Cup 2007 Nov. 18 in Washington, D.C. Houston 2
New England 1.
Goals: Ngwenya (De Rosario) 61, De Rosario (Davis, Waibel) 74; Twellman (Ralston, Joseph) 20. Houston --
Robinson, Cochrane, Barrett, Mullan, Mulrooney, De Rosario, Davis, Jaqua, Ngwenya (Holden, 80). New England --
Reis, Heaps, Parkhurst, John, Thompson,
Larentowicz, Joseph, Ralston (Dorman, 78), Smith, Noonan, Twellman. Yellow cards:
Houston -- Barrett 57; New England -- Smith 65. Referee:
Alex Prus. Att.:
39,859. STATISTICS: Shots:
Houston 14, New England 14. Shots on Goal:
Houston 7, New England 8. Saves:
Houston 7, New England 5. Fouls:
Houston 15, New England 15. Offside:
Houston 1, New
England 1. Corner Kicks:
Houston 3, New England 4. MLS CHAMPIONS: 1996
D.C. United 1997
D.C. United 1998
Chicago Fire 1999
D.C. United 2000
Kansas City Wizards 2001
San Jose Earthquakes 2002
Los Angeles Galaxy 2003
San Jose Earthquakes 2004
Los Angeles Galaxy 2006
Houston Dynamo 2007