for this game

Dynamo rallies to hand Revolution fourth straight final loss

Nov 18, 2007 - 9:13 PM By Ian Parker Special to PA SportsTicker

WASHINGTON (Ticker) - Boston can't win at everything.

The New England Revolution's frustration continued on Sunday as they lost a second straight MLS Cup final, 2-1, to the Houston Dynamo.

New England has now lost four of the last six MLS Cup finals, while Houston can celebrate two straight titles since moving to Texas from San Jose at the start of the 2006 season.

The Dyanmo did not retain its records for San Jose when it moved, but several of these players were on the teams that won the title in 2001 and 2003, making this a true dynasty.

"This is a team that should be talked about for years to come," coach Dominic Kinnear said.

Houston did things the hard way, coming from behind to win. Taylor Twellman had given the Revolution a 20-minute lead, outleaping the Houston defense to head home from Steve Ralston's cross.

But Joseph Ngwenya scored from close range to tie the game in the 59th minute and soon after Canada international Dwayne De Rosario headed in the winner.

De Rosario, who also had the assist on Ngwenya's goal, was named MLS Cup MVP.

Houston becomes the first team to win back-to-back MLS Cup titles since DC United did it in the first two years of the league in 1996 and 1997.

In a sign of the stability that underlies these clubs' success, 16 of the players who started this game were in the 22 for last year's MLS Cup final, won by Houston on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie in Dallas.

But not among the number was Houston striker Brian Ching, the MVP a year ago, as he did not not even make the substitutes bench suffering the effects of a calf strain.

Even without him, Houston made a quick start as Brad Davis' cross in the fourth minute caused chaos in the New England area. The loose ball fell to Nate Jaqua and, straining the tackle him, it was Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph who sent it toward the goal but Matt Reis made the save.

New England soon began to take control of the ball in midfield. Joseph and Jeff Larentowicz did a great job of shutting down the threat of De Rosario and put Houston on the back foot.

With De Rosario under wraps, Joseph was able to break forward frequently and it was he who started the move for the goal, slipping the ball through for Ralston to cross for Twellman.

The usually solid Houston defense was being run ragged and New England should have doubled its lead in the 33rd minute. A poor pass from Brian Mullan was intercepted by Khano Smith who broke two tackles to reach the box, but he passed up a shooting chance to lay the ball off to Twellman who couldn't get any power in his shot.

Another fine cross from Ralston set up Pat Noonan with a chance in the 37th minute, but his header was just wide of the target from close range.

"We lost because we didn't take enough chances," Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. "We probably could have scored three or four. That's why we lost the game."

Having survived those scares, Houston could have equalized six minutes before the interval, but Ngwenya glanced his header wide when all alone in the New England area.

The second half started with another great chance for New England as Noonan raced onto a through ball inside the penalty area, but Pat Onstad came out to block the shot.

Twellman came close to a spectacular second goal in the 59th minute, meeting Ralston's cross to hit a thundering volley just over the crossbar.

New England would be made to rue that miss as Houston pulled level moments later.

The Dynamo had changed things in the second half, switching to a 3-5-2 formation to match New England in midfield.

"We switched in the 60th minute the 3-5-2," Kinnear said. "Guys thought we'd be under control better so we kind of stayed that way."

The change quickly paid off.

Mullan's sweeping cross found De Rosario on the left and he pulled the ball back to Ngwenya. The forward miss-hit his first shot completely, but the ball fell for him to have a second chance and slip the ball past Reis from close range.

At the other end, Khano Smith wanted a penalty when he went down under Waibel's challenge inside the area. He didn't get it, and was lucky to avoid a red card when he pushed Waibel to the ground as the two continued to argue.

Houston survived a scare in the 63rd minute when Ralston's cross picked up a deflection to wrong-foot Onstad, but the loose ball evaded Twellman.

The Dynamo then completed a remarkable turnaround when De Rosario raced into the box and got in front of Michael Parkhurst to meet Davis' cross with a powerful header inside the near post.

"I can't believe (Dwayne) scored with his head, because in training, he never does," Kinnear said of De Rosario, who admitted he could not remember the last time he headed a goal.

"He picked a great time," added Kinnear. "It was an excellent header."

While not a specialist in the air, De Rosario made it look simple.

"Brad got the ball to my head. I had the easy job of just putting it in," he said. "In these games situations, it's more of instinct than anything else. The ball was played. It's the first time the ball came to my head- and the ball went into the net."

De Rosario also scored the game winner for the Earthquakes back in 2001 against Los Angeles. He becomes the first player in MLS history to win MLS Cup MVP twice and to score the game-winning goal in two finals.

"They're both special moments," he said. "Both with special guys. 2001 was special - this is even more special because we're the second team to go back-to-back. This moment will live in our hearts forever."

New England tried to respond in the 77th minute when Jay Heaps poked the ball through to Noonan, but his shot from inside the area went agonizingly wide.

Twellman forced a late corner and Larentowicz brought a remarkable save out of Onstad as the midfielder dived to send the ball goalwards.

It was one of the best chances of the game, and when it passed New England knew.

It would not be their day, yet again.

"They've all been tough," New England defender Jay Heaps said of the final losses. "I wish I could put in words how tough it was. We lost on a scrappy goal. We've defended scrappy goals all year."

"I'm not mad or angry," a dejected Twellman said after the game. "There's nothing. I'm lifeless."