Dynamo 1, Revolution 1; Dynamo wins 4-3 on penalty kicks

Monday, November 13th 2006, 10:46 am
By: News On 6

FRISCO, Texas (AP) _ The Houston Dynamo's championship celebration will last a lot longer than 71 seconds.

They have Brian Ching to thank for that.

The New England Revolution? Well, those bittersweet 71 seconds will have to tide them over for another year.

What seemed destined to finish as the most plodding MLS Cup final in history abruptly shifted to rank among the most thrilling Sunday, starting late in the second overtime when the Revolution's Taylor Twellman broke a scoreless tie with a spectacular run, shot and goal.

But a little more than a minute later, with New England fans still buzzing from the goal, Ching headed a crossing pass into the net.

The sudden turn brought a Houston-heavy crowd from desperation to sudden elation, tied the game 1-1 and forced a shootout the Dynamo won 4-3 to deny the Revolution an MLS Cup title for a third time.

``Immediately after they scored, it was like, 'OK, I'm going to do everything I can to score,''' said Ching, who also scored the decisive goal in the fifth and final set of penalty kicks and was named MVP.

``We're going to fight to the death and we're going to battle back.''

Faced with a must-goal in the final attempt of the shootout, Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad blocked Jay Heaps' line drive to the left side of the net and lay cradling the ball as Dynamo fans draped in fluorescent orange erupted.

The championship was technically the third for the former San Jose Earthquakes, which won in 2001 and 2003. It was the first MLS Cup final to be decided on penalty kicks.

The loss was another stinging defeat in the league championship for the Revolution, who lost 1-0 in overtime to Los Angeles last year. New England also made the final game and lost in 2002.

``We've lost every possible way we can lose in the finals,'' Twellman said.

After playing even for all of regulation and one overtime, the Revolution finally broke the game open and appeared just minutes away from victory. In the 113th minute, Twellman charged up the field, split two defenders and shot the ball into opposite corner of the net past sliding Dynamo defender Kelly Gray.

Just over a minute later, before the attending Revolution fans' joy had a chance to sink in, Ching headed in the tying goal off a long cross from Brian Mullan that first deflected off New England's Avery John.

``Honestly, when Chinger's header hit the net, I was in shock because I couldn't believe we just scored,'' Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear said. ``The path from their goal to his goal was so fast, and we had just gone from despair. My head couldn't catch up.''

Ching later scored the winning penalty kick in the fifth set, stutter-stepping on his approach before knocking the ball that skipped through New England's Matt Reis' outstretched fingertips.

Twellman especially didn't like losing on penalty kicks _ the same way Italy beat France to win the World Cup this summer, a tournament that was full of shootouts.

``They should have just let us keep playing,'' he said.

The Revolution lost another final in which they didn't always play like big-game tested veterans, despite its two previous MLS Cup appearances and five straight Eastern Conference finals. In all, New England extended its scoreless streak in MLS Cup games to more than 336 minutes before Twellman's goal.

``We had the one-goal lead and that's all you can ask for,'' New England forward Pat Noonan said.

But Ching, who played in the World Cup this summer for the U.S., told teammates he wanted to get the goal back with barely seven minutes remaining _ hardly much time in a game that elapsed nearly two hours before the first goal.

``When they scored, we fought back,'' Ching said. ``We weren't going to lose today.''