Sunday, November 18, 2007

mls cup

Kraft's Revolution lose MLS Cup for 4th time; De Rosario 1st with 2 MVPs
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By Howard Fendrich, AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON ― Robert Kraft is having more success with his football team than his futbol team.
While Kraft's New England Patriots have won three of the past six Super Bowls and entered Sunday as the NFL's only unbeaten squad, his New England Revolution keep falling just short in Major League Soccer.

For three consecutive seasons, and four of the past six, the Revolution made it all the way to the MLS Cup. They were beaten each time, including Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo.

Kraft was at RFK Stadium on Sunday, wearing a blue Revolution soccer scarf over his suit jacket while he watched the game.

"Just don't let teams hang around," Kraft said as he headed for an exit after the Revolution's latest setback.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Sunday | MVP | Cup | MLS | New England | Major League Soccer | Revolution | Kraft | Houston Dynamo | Steve Ralston
One of his soccer team's stars, Taylor Twellman, spoke softly as he stood in his locker, knowing he was once again so close to clutching the MLS Cup - and once again so far.

The Revolution lost the 2002 and 2005 title games in overtime, and last year's defeat - also against Houston - came in a penalty kick shootout.

"I've absolutely lost every final, every which way you can," Twellman said.

He gave New England a 1-0 lead with a header off Steve Ralston's cross in the 20th minute, scoring for the third consecutive game.

The Revolution took that lead into halftime, stretching their postseason scoreless streak to 315 minutes - the longest since the MLS changed its playoff structure in 2003. But Houston eventually broke through, tying it on Joseph Ngwenya's goal in the 61st minute and going ahead on MLS Cup MVP Dwayne De Rosario's header in the 74th.

"A tale of two halves. We outplayed them the first half, had quality chances," Twellman said. "The second half, we came out, bunkered in, and didn't get the job done."

Like Twellman, Steve Ralston has started all of New England's MLS Cup losses.

"They're all equally disappointing," Ralston said.


MVP TIMES 2: Dwayne De Rosario's little son toted around the crystal trophy given to the MVP of the MLS Cup. Didn't Dad want to carry it? Well, he already has.

De Rosario assisted on Houston's tying score, then netted the go-ahead goal himself 13 minutes later, leading the Dynamo to a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution for a second consecutive Major League Soccer championship.

"I score big goals because I have big players around me," De Rosario said.

He came through in the clutch in the 2001 MLS Cup, too, scoring the winning goal in the 96th minute for the San Jose Earthquakes to earn MVP honors then.

De Rosario is the first player to twice be the MVP of the MLS Cup and the first player to score the winning goal in two title games.

He broke Sunday's tie in the 74th minute, rising near the penalty spot to head a cross just inside the right post.

"I've seen some great goals in some big games," Revolution defender Jay Heaps said, "but I thought that was real big."


NOW THAT'S AN OLD RECORD: By playing in the MLS Cup, Steve Ralston tied a record so old and obscure that he didn't even know it existed until a few days ago.

The New England midfielder played in his 370th MLS game Sunday, equaling the career record for appearances in a major U.S. soccer league. He tied the record held by Bill McPherson, who played in the American Soccer League that existed from 1921-31.

"I didn't know anything about it," Ralston said. "He played a while ago, that's all I know."

The record was compiled by historians at the National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum. They considered only three U.S. leagues to be worthy of topflight status: the old ASL, the North American Soccer League (1967-84) and MLS (1996-present).

Ralston is only one of seven players who have been in every season since MLS was launched. He was the league's first rookie of the year in 1996.

Now that he knows about the record, he thinks it's pretty neat.

"It's something I'm proud of," he said. "I've tried to go out and play every game and be relied upon and feel like I can contribute and be wanted."

He assisted on New England's goal Sunday, but Houston went on to win 2-1. Ralston left in the 78th minute after having problems with cramps.

"I don't know what's wrong with my body. ... For some reason, my muscles were locking up out there," Ralston said.


AP Sports Writers Joseph White and Brian Trusdell contributed to this report. So I got to a sports bar a little after noon today and waited for the day's NFL games to begin. One TV was showing the MLS Cup Final, Major League Soccer's championship game, between the Houston Dynamo and the New England Revolution. Supporters from both clubs were at RFK Stadium making lots of noise. It looked like a pretty entertaining game with a great atmosphere

Then at 1:00 PM sharp, every TV automatically switched to one of the 10 NFL games kicking off at that time. Nobody in the bar would really get a chance to notice that atmosphere -- nor would they see the two goals the Dynamo scored in the second half to win the game and keep the Revolution, who won the U.S. Open Cup last month, from taking the double.

This strikes me as something of a scheduling gaffe. I understand that MLS wants to give club supporters an opportunity to travel to the game and enjoy their afternoon, but how does this league expect to attract American sports fans to its product -- and the kind of stadium atmosphere only soccer fans can produce -- if it schedules its championship at a time that virtually guarantees that only hardcore fans are paying attention?

How many people in America got to see Dwayne De Rosario's game winner in the 74th minute, which gave the Dynamo a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish? How many people got to see all the fans from both teams celebrating goals and chanting for their sides? Chances are that number will prove to be very, very low -- much lower than it would have been if the game were held on, say, a Saturday night, which would have given club supporters enough time to get to Washington and would not have competed with quite as many interesting college football games.

Not that this seems to matter all that much to MLS commissioner Don Garber. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Garber talked a lot about how great an investment property MLS clubs have become, and how the league is approaching profitability. He even threw this gem out there.
Profitability is directly correlated to player salaries. As we continue to see more positive development on revenue side we have been investing more and more into our player pool. MLS could be profitable today if spent less money on players.
Some MLS players make about $30,000 a year, which is the league minimum. The league's collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of 2009. Enjoy the next two seasons, MLS fans, because if Garber doesn't think players should clock more than 30 large a season, a labor strike is inevitable, and the talent is going to scatter to the four corners of the globe. How good will your investments be then, Mr. Garber? WASHINGTON -- On a perfect fall morning, with multi-colored trees and RFK Stadium serving as the backdrop, Mary O'Malley and 12-year-old son Patrick wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. Soccer Celebration was their warmup to the MLS Cup and their leisurely stroll across the grounds was just the right start to a day they had been waiting for with anticipation.
The O'Malleys came not from New England or Houston, but from Chicago. Mary O'Malley's company, ChemCentral, won a raffle at a Fire game that brought two tickets to MLS Cup 2007. Her CEO, John Yanney, gave the tickets to the O'Malleys, creating a day of bonding between mother and son.

"We're just thrilled to be here," Mary O'Malley said with a smile.

Patrick O'Malley, a budding youth soccer player, echoed those sentiments. He and his mom both wore Fire shirts to Sunday's game. The only that could have made their trip to Washington more enjoyable would have been if Chicago had made it to the Cup.

"I'm a bit disappointed the Fire didn't make it, but I'm still really happy to come," Patrick O'Malley said.

Mary O'Malley learned more than a week ago that she and her son were in for a special soccer weekend. Yanney had remembered Patrick O'Malley attending one of the Fire games in the company suite and having a great time.

Patrick O'Malley wrote Yanney a nice thank-you note. When the MLS Cup tickets became available through the raffle, Yanney decided Patrick O'Malley and his mom were the best representatives for the company.

"It's a beautiful day and we got to stay at the Grand Hyatt last night," Mary O'Malley said. "There were players walking around. It was just amazing."

Revolution fans Pam and Jeff Davis, who live in the Boston area, were also relishing the Soccer Celebration experience before entering RFK Stadium.

"You couldn't ask for a better day for a game," Davis said. "I'm a Revolution season-ticket holder, so I really wanted to be here. I just feel like this has to be their year. If the Red Sox could break through, I think these guys can do it, too. And hopefully, in a shorter time frame."

Davis said it's a great time to be a sports fan from New England.

"Even the (NBA) Celtics are perking up this year," Pam Davis said with a laugh.

Although Houston fans had farther to travel, Dynamo also had their share of ardent supporters making their way to Washington.

Dan Tiegs from Katy, Texas, a Houston suburb, made quick plans for a Washington weekend family trip after Dynamo earned a second consecutive trip to the MLS Cup.

"We're lucky enough to be at the same hotel as the team," Tiegs said. "With this sport, unlike most, the players are very approachable. They are great with the kids. All in all, it has really been a sweet weekend. We'll remember this trip for a long time."

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
the 2006 season, MLS created their version of the scudetto (Italian: "small shield"), a symbol worn on the jersey by the team who won the previous season's Serie A (the top Italian league).

The MLS scudetto is a curved, triangular badge featuring a backdrop of the American flag behind a replica of the Alan I. Rothenberg MLS Cup trophy. The MLS scudetto is worn by the winning team the season following the victory. It is only during the subsequent season (two years after winning the championship), that the team adds a star ― a common soccer signifier of titles won ― above the team logo. The team can display the star on other items beside their jersey in the year after winning the Cup, but only if the scudetto is not shown.

The 2005 MLS Cup champion, the Los Angeles Galaxy, was the first team to wear the scudetto and now has a second star above the team shield on the jersey during the 2007 season[1].


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