|Houston 2 New England 1
Is it a Boston baseball curse or just Caddyshack. “You aint got it today Noonan. Miss it, miss it, Nonnan, Noonan, Aaaaah!”
Tough loss for New England – can you say Noonan, not it wasn’t his fault. It was Pat Onstad who saved the Dynamo late in the game as a point blank header off the red hair of Larentowicz went just off his leg. Onstad stayed big in the goal and preserved the win. Yeah, Houston is a Dynasty, going back to their days as the San Jose Earthquakes—even saw one Earthquake jersey in the orange crush of fans at the game. The same collection of players make up this same Houston team, except of course Landon Donovan.
All day long Kano’s long strides were giving Houston trouble down the side but they didn’t take advantage of their chances. I think Houston has just a bit more fight in them and that’s why they won. They win more of the tackles and didn’t stray from their game plan even when they were down. But New England was no slouch, throughout they played good soccer and had their chances. Although I’d say they had opportunities, time and space, to get good crosses in but many times but these were hit too low or missed their targets. Noonan tried to toe poke the ball home off a good turn and didn’t miss by much late in the second half.
Line of the game by Wynalda: ‘Either he’s trying to find the blood or making himself bleed.’
This was after Craig Weibel suckered Khano Smith into trying to head butt him and Weibel took an Italian worthy like dive—Khano earned a yellow card for his frustrated reaction. All day long in the first half Khano was eating Weibel up. Weibel spent more time on the ground as a kept miss timing his tackles.
Khano even served up Twellman with an easy chance, for a forward of Twellman’s stature (bit more Kick-Medic might have got it for him), the pass maybe a bit too close to his body though, and he couldn’t get good enough power on the shot. If you back at the game, that’s when New England lost it, if they score then, or when Khano is tearing up the sidelines, take advantage of those chances, game over, Kraft waving his flag in the box upstairs.
I suppose what you really could say was the downfall of New England was letting Houston get into their heads. Whether it was Khano’s yellow card, the poor crosses at times, or not enough fight in the team, it’s easy to speculate now, as you look back. This would be a bit of a reach though too, as far as the Revs lacking fight, the Revolution did fight back throughout the game and I think just needed more precision with their final pass, the chances were there.
However, the trio of Noonan, Twellman, and Ralston was broken up late in the game when Ralston went off with a calf injury—Revs missed his clever ability to pick his band mates out with lofty chips or angled passes. I wonder if Dempsey was watching in England or South Africa, he could have added a bit of help to his former club.
Houston though is an experienced side, and once they had the lead they started to play smart soccer, killing time and clearing the ball early from the back. What a tremendous snap header by Dwayne De Rosario to win it? Good power on the ball off an early cross by Davis.
I’ve become a big fan of the Orange and Dominic Kinnear—the team has more punch, epitomized by a player like Brian Mullan. Although Avery John didn’t shirk from a tackle with Mullan on the sideline—might have to redact my idea that Houston has more punch, but I’d say all in all they did. I’d also say Mullan should get another chance with the US national team. He’s a fighter and a winner. That’s something that should be taken into consideration when bringing players in—do they win games for their clubs. And Houston won without Ching and Ricardo Clark, both US national team players. If you look back at the year, Kinnear made a few trades to help his team win the MLS Cup. Rather than bring in a Blanco or a Beckham, he went out and got Nate Jaqua and Joseph Ngwenya, and brought back Richard Mulrooney—savvy purchases on the cheap in comparison, three for one so to speak.
DC United was probably the first dynasty, I’m guessing, and now it’s the Houston Dynamo slash San Jose Earthquake collective.
Overall, a fun game to watch by two teams that play good, simple soccer and have a few players with flair. Players like Dwayne, Khano, and Ralston, those players that add the element of ‘surprise’ as Christopher Sullivan might say. I’m looking forward to possible future re-matches and the continued build up of these rivalries. Takes time to create the histories that enable rivalries to develop, the MLS has more and more, and that’s what will take the league to the next level. Then, when there’s promotion and demotion in the league, we’ll be all set.
I was going to grab a coffee this morning and saw someone headed off to a San Francisco 49ers game with a Steve Young jersey on—yes, they could use him now, but as the MLS continues to build a history we’ll maybe see fans showing up to games ten years from now with say an orange De Rosario jersey on.