New England Eats Its 3rd Consecutive Big One

I don’t actually have a lot to write about this.  If you saw it, you saw it.  If you didn’t, there’s not much I can write that will capture the loss better than the entire left-hand side of New England’s team sitting cross-legged in tears on the field after the final whistle.

So, I’ll start here by being Big.  Congratulations to the Houston Dynamo.  They’re a damned good team and a tough one to hate.  I can’t say they didn’t earn it, not even given the insanely lucky late save Pat Onstad pulled out from his upper intestine on Jeff Larentowicz’s point-blank header; Onstad’s positioning was spot-on, so there’s that usual bit about making your luck.

Congratulations also El Guero from Who Ate All the Cupcakes.  Well played on the pick.  I believe this leaves the Center Holds It/Who Ate All the Cupcakes Playoff Pick Duel with a tie at the top.  So…now what guys?  I don’t think we covered this scenario.

What to say about the Revolution at this point?  Three in a row, three heart-breaking losses running.  Doesn’t that top the Buffalo Bills level of self-inflicted pain?  (This is rhetorical, by the way.  I don’t really care about the answer.)  To make matters worse, they just got beat this time; no fluky goal – even Joseph Ngwenya’s equalizer was ugly slop, it was definitely coming based on how the second half started – and I have nothing bad to say about the ref, who I thought called a good game.  No, Houston just kept working and plugging away, they got their chances and made the most of them.  Dwayne DeRosario’s winner, which came off a marvelous cross by Brad Davis, who was given far too much space.

That raises the biggest question about this game: what happened to the New England team that looked unstoppable and unflappable in the first half?  That team did everything right – playing short, quick passes, stretching the Dynamo defense all over Hell to the point where you wondered if it wasn’t FC Dallas or the Kansas City Wizards out there.  For 45 minutes, New England left reeling the best-ever defensive team in Major League Soccer history.  And then what I thought would happen did happen (sincerely, I almost did an “at the half” post): Houston came out and, to all appearances, New England laid off.  That led to a series of scrambles in New England’s area, which ultimately resulted in Houston’s equalizer.  DeRosario’s wunder-winner followed and the rest is history.

So, did New England enter the second half laying off, saving energy for a late push?  I couldn’t tell, to be honest.  All I know is Houston unquestionably looked the better team in the second half.  New England – and not just Taylor Twellman – were left to rue the several missed chances, soft shots, and…and…whatever the hell it was the put on the field for the second half of what really could have been a Double-winning year.

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9 Responses

  1. Houston ran all over them in the second half, that’s for sure.

    But what a physical game, it was a battle from start to finish, looking more like a football game sometimes than an actually soccer game.

    And easy with the Buffalo Bills comments there, I’m from Buffalo and if you are a Revolution fan, you have NOTHING on what it was like to be a Bills fan for those 4 years.

    Can we talk about how a headbutt to an opposing player only warrants a Yellow Card? Seriously?

    This starts me on my rant of it doesn’t matter what point in the game it is, if you headbutt someone in the face, foul them in the box, whatever, it should always be the same foul. Yes, reffing in Soccer is open to interpretation a majority of the time, but honestly. It’s as if it is impossible to call a penalty in the first 20 minutes and in the last 20 minutes of a game normally, which leaves 50 minutes that it is okay to do so. (That had nothing to do with this game, but just saying)

  2. Ryan, of course, I am with you completely on this one, and this is the last you will hear me say about either clear and obvious foul, John’s take down of Jaqua in the box and Smith’s clear red-card offense against Waibel. To talk more about either would be to take away from the game because, as it turned out, neither had any effect on the final outcome.

    But yes, the Bills analogies are apt in stats only. New England has NOTHING to be ashamed of and I tip my Dynamo cap to them. This was easily the most hotly-contested Cup Final I have ever seen. Two titans squaring off and dishing out the punishment toe-to-toe for 94 minutes. You could go on singing the praises of both teams, but like you said Jeff, if you saw it, you saw it. And when I’m screaming and yelling with my kids at the Dynamo victory party Tuesday night at City Hall here in Houston, I will not forget just how close the two teams were and what a fine final it was.

    Hope everyone enjoys the offseason (I switch now to Celtic to carry me through until Dynamo play in CONCACAF Champions Cup action in February/March). Go Go DYNAMO! Two stars and counting….

  3. Hmm….I didn’t intend to imply that New England is in any way suffering worse than the Bills or Buffalo fans…should of considered the home residence of my colleague on that. It was more a “details be damned, this has to suck” kind of statement.

    And Martek, I agree with you on both. Smith, especially, was damned lucky to carry on. My sincere congratulations on the win. As much as I want to hate the Dynamo for two straight, they deserve nothing but respect.

    And good to hear, Martek, that you’re raising your youngsters with an appreciation of the finer things.

  4. Shoot Jeff. Even THEY are a little taken aback at my soccer fandom. But both have fallen in love with playing and watching the sport. They love it, and why not? Just a wonderful and (an overused, but really, a thoroughly apt term) beautiful game.

    I’m also extending my best wishes to Jimmy Chowda. Hope you emerge tomorrow in good shape and ready to start the 2008 campaign.

  5. 1) I thought it was a pretty well refed game. It should have been a penalty on the first foul in the box, regardless what minute of the game it was, but those are always subjective at top speed without the benefit of replay. The headbutt, even though I agree was red cardable I think was a good call. But I would have made it clear to the player (and loud enough for the coach to hear that one more foul and he’s gone).
    2) I don’t think NE laid off in the second half as much as Houston came on. NE did not sit back and defend. They tried to go forward which made it an entertaining game. The same went for Houston after they got the lead. NE just missed their chances, Houston didn’t.
    3) I thought overall it was an entertaining game, and the level of play was pretty good. If all MLS games could get to that level, I don’t think anyone in the league would have anything to be ashamed about as far as quality of play in the league.

  6. Well Martek, I did awake in a slightly better mood but it still hurts. I finally got up enough nerve to post something to the blog: http://bluebloodedjourno.blogspot.com/ Oh, and your kids will dig soccer as long as you are a good father. You can be the best supporter in the world, but if you are a lousy dad, your children will hate you and whatever you are into.

    Congrats to Houston. You took it from us in the second half. I guess the neutrals are happy with a close, exciting game at last.

    I have an upcoming post on what I hope Kraft is doing as we speak. Look out for that one.

  7. Jeff,,

    haha, I was just joking about the Bills reference. We almost pulled it out last night against New England..oh wait no we didn’t

  8. Good to hear, Ryan. I had a Denver Broncos fan for a friend in high school and know how he suffered during that team’s dark days. It was like watching a starving puppy stare at an empty bowl.

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