In a rematch of last year’s final, the Houston Dynamo defeated the New England Revolution 2-1 at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC to become repeat MLS champions. The atmosphere at RFK was pretty good; there were a little less than 40,000 fans in attendance. I sat on the side opposite the fan groups amidst mostly neutral fans, many who didn’t seem very knowledgeable about the teams or sport. It was cool to see on the opposite side, from left to right, the New England supporters, DC supporters, and Houston supporters on one side of the field. In the first half the DC supporters chanted “You guys are boring <clap> <clap> <clap> <clap> <clap>” and “Borrring, Borrring” which I enjoyed. Several “D C U-ni-ted” <clap> <clap> <clap> <clap> <clap> chants broke out at odd times, even on the quiet side.
The match was pretty typical of a final in that tackling and commitment were much more apparent than artistry and magic. Still there were some special moments: Twellman’s goal was excellently crafted, from the firmly delivered through pass from first half MVP Shalrie Joseph to Ralston’s superb first touch to free him behind the defense to the cherry on the sundae, Twellman’s powerfully headed goal; DeRosario’s game-winning, snap header goal from a perfectly delivered Brad Davis cross was incredible and worthy of winning a final; Onstad sealed the win by absolutely stoning Jeff Larentowicz from close range.
Houston won the game by making it ugly. It upped the tempo and pressure in midfield in the 2nd half, which decreased Joseph’s influence. If something was going to materialize it would have to come from Khano Smith or Wells Thompson. Though Smith made some marauding runs down the left side and skinned Craig Waibel on more than a few occasions, no concrete chances materialized from his forward runs. Just before Houston’s game-winning goal, DeRosario and Brad Davis were shouting at each other near midfield. It seemed clear that they were getting in each other’s way. I imagine the conversation went something like this:
DeRo: I’ve got no room; there’s no space in the middle
Davis: Get the hell out of my way dread boy
DeRo: You get out of my way dumbo ears
Davis: Look, you go forward and I’ll serve you the ball
What do you know, they embraced like best friends after Davis centimeter perfect cross found DeRosario’s head. There were a few anxious moments that followed, but nothing sustained. It was another solid, workmanlike win for Dominic Kinnear’s team. It is a real testament to Kinnear that his teams succeed even when key players are injured or suspended. The Dynamo were without its best forward and arguably most important player Brian Ching, after Ching went down with a calf injury in the 70th minute of the semifinal. Starting central midfielder Ricardo Clark missed every playoff match through suspension after violently kicking Carlos Ruiz during a regular season match.
Houston will undoubtedly bask in the glory of back-to-back championships. For the rest of us, according to Steve Goff,we have:
- Three days until the expansion draft
- 60 days until the college draft in Baltimore
- 74 days (approximately) until training camp opens
- 132 days until the 2008 regular season openers