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Dynasty in the Making

Posted on 18 November 2007 by ASN Staff

Dynamo rally to repeat
by Chris Snear

© Jonathan Larsen/Diadem Images
The Revs Wells Thompson battles Houston’s Ryan Cochrane for the ball

WASHINGTON D.C. (CSA) – The last time the Houston Dynamo were in RFK Stadium, head coach Dominic Kinnear closed the locker room for 54-minutes after another loss, at the time, to DC United. He ranted for 20-minutes and then the team aired out their issues and emotions.

On Sunday however, after an unpolished first half, Kinnear asked for just 5-10 percent more from his team as they were down to 1-0 to the New England Revolution.

He got that and more as the Dynamo scored twice in the second half to defeat the Revolution for the second year in a row and claim the MLS Cup 2-1 before 39,859 fans in Washington, DC.

Houston is first team to repeat as champion since DC United accomplished the feat in 1996 and 1997. United’s second win was also at RFK Stadium.

Dwayne DeRosario scored the game winning goal in the 74th minute and assisted on Joseph Ngwenya’s equalizer in the 61st minute to claim Most Valuable Player honors. He is the only two time MVP in MLS Cup history.

Six years ago in his rookie season, he came off the bench to score the Golden Goal that won the league title for the San Jose Earthquakes at Columbus Crew Stadium, 2-1 over Los Angeles.

The Revolution have now reached the MLS Cup four times in the last six years and have come short in each attempt. This loss however, was the first in regulation time.

“No, not at all,” said Kinnear, if he had another meltdown. “However that gets thrown out there that I’m a paint peeler, that maybe happens twice a year. For me, and the guys will testify to that, it was just play a little better; the field kind of slowed us down a bit as the ball was getting stuck in our feet a bit and I just told the guys that if we pick up our play maybe 5 or 10 percent I think we’ll be in good shape…The halftime speech was pretty calm. We had a lot of time left to score one goal and get back in the game.”

New England’s Shalrie Joseph and Steve Ralston had most of the ball in the first half, controlling the tempo and producing quality attacking opportunities.

After a quiet first quarter hour, Taylor Twellman was the benefactor of their work scoring in the 20th minute to make the score 1-0.

Twellman’s header from eight yards out beat a helpless Pat Onstad to the near post after Joseph played a simple ball behind the Houston back line to Ralston on the right touch line.

The Dynamo responded three minutes later when DeRosario’s cross from the right flank hit Avery John in the back but deflected right back to him. His subsequent left footed blast from inside the penalty area sailed over the top.

The Dynamo were clearly out of sorts in the attacking third. With New England carrying most of the possession, DeRosario spent little time on the ball and could not make the late, penetrating runs that are his most effective.

“I thought the first half from my perspective, we looked a little tentative, a little nervous for the type of guys we have. At halftime no one was really down, we got 45-minutes, we haven’t played our best stuff,” said Onstad.

“I think just in general we didn’t have a very good first half. We said at halftime that everyone needs to come out and be 5% better and take a little bit better care of the ball and come out and be relentless in the second half,” said Houston captain Wade Barrett echoing Kinnear. “In the second half we needed to take better care of the ball and come out and be relentless in the second half and I thought we did great in the first 30-40 minutes doing that.”

After a sliding Onstad knocked the ball away from Pat Noonan just a minute into the second half, Ngwenya created a good chance two minutes later but his bouncing shot was knocked away by goalkeeper Matt Reis.

Kinnear switched formations moving Barrett into the midfield and playing with three defenders. The tactical move worked two ways. Pressuring Joseph higher adding an extra body in the midfield and playing a more direct game versus moving down the flanks which was not working in the first half.

“Higher pressure,” Kinnear said was his tactical adjustment for Joseph along with the formation change. “It was hard for either team to move the ball because the field was sticky. We told Dwayne to step more on Shalrie Joseph to take him away from the game and I thought our forwards were more active when the ball turned over.”

Joseph and Ralston, who left the game with severe cramps in the 78th minute, had far less room to work in and collected the ball deeper and with fewer attacking options. Their primary target was Twellman alone as Noonan needed to come into the midfield to help collect the ball.

“We proved our will to win. This has never been a group that gives. I wouldn’t want to win with any other team. They are dedicated and full of determination…”

Dwayne DeRosario

“When you go to a 3-5-2, you rely on your back three and Richard to keep the game close and I thought Ryan (Cochrane) and Eddie (Robinson) and Craig and Richard back there and Pat organizing them did a really good job. Pat Noonan was a thorn all day with his movement,” Kinnear added.

“I think Jeff and Shalrie were getting a little bit too much time on the ball and spraying it and playing it up top and Pat Noonan could come off the front and sit in a good area and he’s a very dangerous player,” said Onstad about New England’s first half success.

“I thought the service was too easy but once we snuffed that out we made it a lot more difficult for them. I think there only options in attack were to knock the ball wide and have Wells (Thompson) and Khano (Smith) knock it in,” he continued.

“Good players find the ball and I thought he had a very, very good game today spreading the ball but we kept him away from the dangerous parts, which is in front of our goal,” added Richard Mulrooney. “I thought we did a good job of creating a field in front of our goal that they didn’t really have a lot of great opportunities in terms of shooting and dribbling in there.”

Houston picked up the attacking tempo and Ngwenya equalized in the 61st minute pouncing on a loose ball after a scramble in the front of New England’s goal. Brain Mullan sent the original ball into the penalty area from the right flank that was flicked by a Revolution header over the back line to the far post. After whiffing on his first attempt, the ball bounced back to him which he buried from seven yards out.

The game winning goal was an anomaly for DeRosario, pounding a header of all things past Reis for his 5th career playoff goal. DeRosario stepped in front of and outjumped Jay Heaps to a perfect cross by Brad Davis. Craig Waibel sprung Davis free with crafty ball down the right flank.

That goal was preceded by a superb build-up by the Dynamo that resulted on a good save by Reis on a left footed shot DeRosario from 12-yards out just a minute earlier.

Onstad made his most critical save when he needed to knocking away a Jeff Laurentowicz’s header from close range header off an Andy Dorman corner kick in stoppage time.

“Unbelievable,” Mulrooney said about Onstad’s save. “The ball went over my head, I turned and (saw) a big group and it went through them and all of a sudden I heard it hit somebody’s head and you always expect to see the net ripple. And then I heard it hit Pat’s hands, he’s some of the best hands in the league and then I saw it cleared.”

“Thank god, Christmas came early,” said Mulrooney.

“The game’s over,” defender Craig Waibel said were his thought immediately after Onstad’s effort. “Your goalkeeper’s job is to make one save that saves the game and he did it.”

Onstad’s save was the capper as the Revolution sent waves forward in hopes of getting the equalizer. Onstad was anticipating the thrust forward after they had taken the lead.

“When we went up 2-1, I said, ‘okay, now it’s your time’ and a guy came for a cross right after and I got hit pretty good and I said, ‘okay, you’re into it’ and I’m just glad I go to contribute to it,’ said the 39-year old Vancouver native. “It seems every MLS Cup I have one big I have to pull out that makes the difference”

In last year’s final also a 2-1 Houston victory over New England but on penalty kicks, not only did he save the final kick on Jay Heaps, he deflected clear a point blank shot from Taylor Twellman in the 26th minute.

This save however, was purely reflexive to a ball coming from the panicked New England attack.

“Somebody told me it was my leg but honestly I couldn’t tell you,” said a smiling Onstad. “He’s in tight so I know he really can’t put in the corners so I tried to stay big and hope it hits you. My biggest concern was the rebound because I knew I wouldn’t have time to react to the rebound and fortunately it got by the first wave of attackers and it was cleared.”

“The reaction was great but his eyes were always on the ball and he was always keeping his eyes out for anything else because it was a crowded penalty area,” added coach Dominic Kinnear.

The loss to United was the turning point in the season for Houston who were playing well but not winning. In that May 26 game, the Dynamo fell behind 2-0 after 30-minutes but still fell 2-1 to United. After losing five out of six games and rarely scoring, they hit their nadir.

“We were playing well but not winning games and it can test your confidence and your metal a little bit,” Kinnear said.

“We had about a 45-minute meeting that was in your face for 20-minutes and after that it was everyone else have a little go at it,” Kinnear recalled, not knowing it lasted as long as it did. “(We) said, ‘hey, let’s get it all out in the open and get the emotions going’ and after that we took the attitude of last year is last year and let’s get back there this year. For me it’s one of those where you stop worrying about defending your title and go on out and try to win another title and we had an attitude switch.”

To finish his MVP performance off with a sparkle, DeRosario blocked the last two crossing attempts by Michael Parkhurst in the waning moments.









New England




NE — Taylor Twellman 3 (Steve Ralston 2, Shalrie Joseph 2) 20
HOU — Joseph Ngwenya 1 (Dwayne De Rosario 2) 61
HOU — Dwayne De Rosario 2 (Brad Davis 1, Craig Waibel 2) 74

New England Revolution — Matt Reis, Avery John, Jay Heaps, Pat Noonan, Jeff Larentowicz, Steve Ralston (Andy Dorman 78), Michael Parkhurst, Khano Smith, Taylor Twellman, Shalrie Joseph, Wells Thompson

Substitutes Not Used: Doug Warren, Adam Cristman, James Riley, Marshall Leonard, Abdoulie Mansally, Sainey Nyassi

Houston Dynamo — Pat Onstad, Eddie Robinson, Ryan Cochrane, Brian Mullan, Brad Davis, Dwayne De Rosario, Craig Waibel, Nate Jaqua, Wade Barrett, Richard Mulrooney, Joseph Ngwenya (Stuart Holden 80)

Substitutes Not Used: Zach Wells, Patrick Ianni, Chris Wondolowski, Paul Dalglish, Mike Chabala, Corey Ashe



New England

Total Shots:



Shots on Goal:









Corner Kicks:






Misconduct Summary:

HOU — Wade Barrett (caution; Professional Foul) 57
NE — Khano Smith (caution; Game Disrepute) 65

Referee: Alex Prus
Referee’s Assistants: Adam Wienckowski; Rob Fereday
4th Official: Brian Hall
Time of Game: 90:00
Weather: Cloudy, 55 degrees
Attendance: 39,859

Chris Snear can be reached at
© Snear/Cyber Soccer Associates, LLC 2005

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