Stayed tuned to this space from noon Eastern as the New England Revolution look to get yet another monkey off their back as they look to complete the Domestic Double. Standing in their path yet again is the Houston Dynamo who we know will be without Ricardo Clark, however it is looking very likely that Brian Ching will also be missing from festivities. Can Nate Jaqua and Joseph Ngwenya do the trick up front?
Hello and good day. I welcome you to this live blog of today's Major League Soccer Cup Final between the New England Revolution and the Houston Dynamo. Perfect footballing weather and a crowd that looks to be near the 40,000 range. Yet again MLS Net does not have the starting lineups up yet so as soon as I find them out, I will let you know them as well. I would also like to see your comments as this match unfolds. You never know, I just may use them during the course of this blog.
Brian Ching fails a late fitness test, Joseph Ngwenya will start in his stead.
What a wonderful rendition of the national anthem as sung by Placido Domingo.
Houston: Onstad, Waibel, Robinson, Cochine, Barrett, Mullan, Mulrooney, Davis, De Rosario, Ngwenya, Jaqua.
New England: Reis, John, Heaps, Noonan, Larentowicz, Ralston, Parkhurst, Smith, Twellman, Joseph, Thompson.
Minute 1: New England gets this final underway!
Minute 1: Joseph Ngwenya caught offside. New England just barely got that offside trap set or else Ngwenya would have been one on one with Reis.
Minute 2: Off a Houston free kick, they go long ball and had Jay Heaps not been in position, Jaqua has an open header. Goal kick to New England.
Minute 4: Hand ball on Craig Waibel, free kick to New England. Twellman's header is eventually cleared. On the other end, Matt Reis nearly has a blunder to end all blunders having the ball slip through his hands but De Rosario has his shot saved. Houston to be frank should be leading 1-0 right now.
Minute 5: Free kick to Houston promptly wasted, but they have easily controlled the opening sequence of this game.
Minute 6: Taylor Twellman and Mulrooney collide in the box and despite all the Twellman protest, the best New England will get is a corner. The corner goes out for a throw and Ralston blows it by conceding a poor foul.
Minute 8: Nate Jaqua tries to go through Michael Parkhurst, that's brave. Reis easily collects.
Minute 9: So the second obvious question is asked in the comments and the answer on my end is simple. I had family matters to attend to yesterday and if I must say so myself, the game was well covered here. In a perfect world every game would be live blogged, but the last time I checked, we all have lives and there are only 24 hours in a day. Plus family always comes first.
Minute 12: Memo to Wells Thompson, you shove a player in the midfield and it's an obvious call. Houston's free kick goes out as Ngwenya is unable to get to the pass.
Minute 13: Ngwenya meets Joseph and goes down in the process. Another Houston free kick just inside their attacking half and Joseph temporarily clears. Reis makes sure the ball will get cleared as he collects.
Minute 15: Jaqua goes down in the penalty area thanks to John and a good challenge shoulder to shoulder. New England clears.
Minute 17: Wells Thompson beats De Rosario to the ball, but Davis's cross towards Jaqua goes to Reis instead. On the other end, Khano Smith with a poor pass into the eighteen and Onstad collects.
Minute 19: Memo to the Disney booth, I could do without the Babe Ruth/Buffalo Bills/Boston Red Sox references. Thank you.
Minute 20: GOAL NEW ENGLAND, GOAL TAYLOR TWELLMAN! Free kick to New England on the center line. Twellman goes to ground way too easily. However Houston do not properly clear and Steve Ralston takes possession on the edge of the penalty area and with a picture perfect cross to Twellman. Mullen and Waibel with pathetic defending and Twellman takes the ball and heads it from wince it was sent. Onstad didn't have a prayer. Completely against the run of play, but do you think Revolution fans care? New England Revolution players hardly celebrated as they know there is still 70 minutes to go. New England Revolution 1 Houston Dynamo 0.
Minute 22: De Rosario goes just high and wide trying to respond. Right after kickoff Houston cries for handball, but it hits Smith in the back more than hand.
Minute 24: That goal has settled New England down. Noonan unable to turn though Twellman was right there with him. Houston clear. Does Houston have an ace in the hole?
Minute 25: Avery John takes down Joseph Ngwenya on the wing, free kick to Houston and this is a dangerous one. This is in perfect Jaqua country. Davis takes the free kick and going far post, Reis punches it away.
Minute 28: Cochrane catches Noonan and now it's a dangerous free kick to New England. Ralston goes low and looks like he miss hit it. Houston clears for the moment, but New England keep possession. Twellman and Larentowicz try to link up, but Larentowicz loses his feet and Houston just get the ball out to touch. Houston finally clear when Noonan mis handles the ball near the edge of the six.
Minute 30: Heaps crosses to Twellman, but Twellman is unable to get any power on his shot and Onstad collects with ease.
Minute 31: Joseph taken down inside the center circle and with enough embellishment earns a free kick to New England. Houston promptly clear.
Minute 33: Khano Smith with a great run, but his pass to Twellman is just behind him and Onstad is lucky to not see any power on that shot as he saves. On the other end, Brad Davis sees his shot blocked by four New England players.
Minute 34: Corner to Houston. Brad Davis with the ball in and it just misses going in on it's own, but goes out for a goal kick.
Minute 37: Noonan close to making it 2-0 but just gets under the header from the Ralston cross.
Minute 38: Mullan earns a corner for Houston, but Davis's cross in is headed clear. And Julie Fowdy, Houston went down 1-0 in the Western Conference Semi-Final, not the Eastern Conference.
Minute 39: Davis with a great ball in and Joseph doesn't make a play until late, then goes wide of the far post. I wonder if the shadows caught him there?
Minute 41: Could what Houston just did be considered a counter attempt? Whatever it was was poorly executed.
Minute 42: Pat Noonan unable to get a first touch on the ball played onto the edge of the penalty area. Onstad collects.
Minute 44: Houston is trying to break New England down in the attack, but to no avail. Another bad pass, another New England goal kick.
Minute 45+1: The only minute of first half stoppage time starts with a New England corner off the deflection of Cochrane. Ralston takes, and puts his cross over Twellman's head. Noonan gets it and forces Onstad into a save to concede a second corner in this sequence. Doesn't matter as the halftime whistle blow.
END OF THE FIRST HALF: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 1 HOUSTON DYNAMO 0.
First Half Thoughts: One goal completely changed this game entirely. Houston dominated the opening nineteen minutes, and really in all honesty should have been ahead 1-0 after Reis fumbled an easy save opportunity. The second New England went ahead against the run of play, Houston lost their composure. It is slowly starting to show how much Houston miss Ricardo Clark and Brian Ching. However one thing Houston has on their side is the fact that they have been here before and know how to keep their composure in these situations.
Will New England bottle the second half, or will Steve Nicol get the biggest monkey off his back?
Minute 46: Houston kick off the second half. No changes made by either side.
Minute 46: Pat Noonan one on one with Onstad who was in the right place at the right time as he saves the effort. Houston kicks out to touch for a throw and off said throw, clear.
Minute 47: Ngwenya gets in on the edge of the six, but his centering pass is blocked and New England clears.
Minute 48: Joseph Ngwenya gets on the edge of the penalty area after turning Heaps. His shot though is right to Reis who makes sure he doesn't blunder this one.
Minute 50: Steve Ralston in plenty of space, but decides to back it out and looks perfectly content to see the ball passed around the park. That doesn't last long as Houston dispossesses in the midfield. However New England tracks back quickly and Houston are starting to show the early signs of frustration.
Minute 52: Brad Davis's shot from the edge of the penalty area is deflected out for a corner. Mulrooney takes and New England is fouled and the pressure for the moment is relieved.
Minute 54: Noonan unable to set up Taylor Twellman as Robinson stops that one in it's tracks. That was a defensive mistake that nearly bit Houston in the backside.
Minute 55: Dwayne De Rosario with a decent cross to Waibel who hits off the outside of his foot and well wide of the near post. Decent half chance though as Houston looks to be be figuring out the puzzle that is this New England defense.
Minute 57: YELLOW CARD WADE BARRETT. Bad challenge on Wells Thompson. Ralston takes the free kick that doesn't get past the first set of defenders inside the penalty area.
Minute 59: Jaqua and De Rosario unable to get a shot off and on the other end, Noonan just misses making it 2-0 for New England. Talk about potentially game changing moments there.
Minute 61: On the hour, Houston earns a free kick off a quickly taken free kick. Davis to take and his cross in just misses reaching the far post. HOUSTON KEEP POSSESSION AND GOAL HOUSTON, GOAL JOSEPH NGWENYA. MAJOR MAJOR MISTAKE IN THE BACK FOR NEW ENGLAND AND IT'S JOSEPH NGWENYA WHO IS THERE TO COLLECT. AVERY JOHN PUTS THAT BALL INTO THE WRONG SPOT AND THEN AVERY JOHN IS BEATEN BY NGWENYA TO THAT BALL. MATT REIS GOES TO GROUND AND NGWENYA SLOTS IT HOME. IS IT HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF? NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 1 HOUSTON DYNAMO 1.
Minute 63: Larentowicz and Jaqua collide inside the penalty area and on the other end, Khano Smith and Craig Waibel get involved. This is going to end in tears for Smith as that head butt should be an instant red card...
Minute 65: YELLOW CARD KHANO SMITH. I don't care what the hell Eric Wynalda says in the Disney booth, a head butt is an automatic red card period end of discussion. Stupid stupid officiating there and this referee has plenty of explaining to do.
Minute 66: Thompson unable to find Twellman on the outside of the six and Houston clear. Is there a game winner in this game during regulation?
Minute 67: Twellman with a cheeky half chance falling to ground, but Onstad appeared to have it covered as it goes wide of the far post and out for a goal kick.
Minute 68: Free kick to Houston and it's Mulrooney to take. Mulrooney plays short to Davis who's cross is cleared and countered by Wells Thompson. However Houston have New England covered and Thompson's cross is cleared.
Minute 70: Khano Smith with his cross is blocked by Waibel. Smith gets a second chance and Twellman's header pops over the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Minute 72: Khano Smith, to steal a poker word, is on tilt. The sooner he is substituted the better at this point.
Minute 73: Barrett feeds De Rosario who's shot wasn't on the best angle in the world and Reis makes an easy save.
Minute 73: GREAT SAVE FROM PAT ONSTAD to deny Steve Ralston's cross at the far post to Twellman. Had Onstad missed that, it's 2-1 to New England.
Minute 74: GOAL HOUSTON DYNANO, GOAL DWAYNE DE ROSARIO. IT'S DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN AS HOUSTON HAS TAKEN THE LEAD IN THIS FINAL. DE ROSARIO TAKES DAVIS'S CROSS AND SNAP HEADS AT THE NEAR POST. JAY HEAPS WAS THERE ON THE MARKING AND HE WAS DEFENSELESS. REIS DIDN'T HAVE A PRAYER AS THAT CAME WITH POWER. HOUSTON DYNAMO 2 NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 1.
Minute 76: Free kick to New England. Ralston takes and Ngwenya misses the effort. New England gets a second chance, that Onstad punches out. This is getting frenetic.
Minute 77: Pat Noonan with a flash chance and just misses the near post. Heaps feeds the ball to him. Substitution New England. Andy Dorman is on for Steve Ralston. That one puzzles me...until you hear him say it's his calf on the field microphone.
Minute 78: New England are getting close to equalizers, but are just missing a final touch.
Minute 79: Dorman's header one hops right to Onstad. Weak effort at best.
Minute 80: Poor Dorman cross out for a goal kick. Substitution for Houston. Joseph Ngwenya for Stuart Holden. Is Houston going 3-6-1?
Minute 82: New England are starting to look devoid of any ideas and it's looking very likely that this game is already over in the Revolution player's minds. Noonan with no power on his shot that is saved with ease by Onstad.
Minute 84: Eric Wynalda says in the Disney booth there is another goal in this game. The only way I see that is if it's from the spot.
Minute 86: Free kick for New England that is cleared out by Houston for a New England throw. Noonan's cross is cleared out. However New England with another chance, but Waibel denies Twellman for a corner...BLOCKED OFF THE LINE BY THE FEET OF ONSTAD FROM A LARENTOWICZ HEADER. OH MY GOODNESS!
Minute 89: Jaqua doesn't go corner hunting and New England dispossess. Long ball to Thompson doesn't reach him and it goes back to Parkhurst. Thompson again on the edge of the penalty area denied and everyone up for New England. Smith taken down AND FREE KICK TO NEW ENGLAND WITH 40 SECONDS TO PLAY IN THE NINETY.
Minute 90: Dorman takes the free kick, but Pat Onstad is in the perfect spot to save and there are 3 minutes left in this game.
Minute 90+1: New England see De Rosario block two long balls. Right now De Rosario is the man of the match.
Minute 90+2: Matt Reis with a poor long ball and Houston start the time wasting. New England will get a free kick off the goal kick however and everyone is forward.
Minute 90+3: Throw in for New England goes long and Mullen clears away...another long punt by Reis goes right to Onstad. Twellman's face says it all as it appears this is all over. AND THAT IS IT!
THE HOUSTON DYNAMO HAVE WON THE MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER CUP FOR THE SECOND YEAR RUNNING AS THEY HAVE DEFEATED THE NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 2-1.
Final Thoughts: What a comeback from Houston. They started the second half the way they started the first half, and thanks to some extremely sloppy defending from Avery John get the equalizer. You could have already started engraving Houston's name on the cup after that moment as New England lost all their spirit and hope and just 13 minutes later saw the camel's back broken as Dwayne De Rosario puts in the most perfect header. Houston just didn't give up even though things didn't look all that promising. New England just lost hope and when they lost their confidence, the game was over. Even though New England created two decent half chances and one great chance at the end of this game, it just wasn't meant to be.
My Man of the Match Award goes to Dwayne De Rosario.
So again, we see that no matter what MLS tries to do to the former San Jose Earthquakes, the Houston Dynamo show yet again why they are the most dynamic team in all of Major League Soccer. Houston stayed under the radar thanks to one David Beckham, but when it was time to shine, their quality rose quickly to the surface. That also includes being without Ricardo Clark and Brian Ching. You may as well say it, Houston Dynamo will have to be clear favorites to win it again next season.
That's all the time for now, I'm Johnathan Starling. Have a wonderful day and remember all feedback is welcomed and appreciated!