By Pat Martin, MLS Editor
Washington, D.C. (Sports Network) - The look on New England Revolution forward Taylor Twellman's face said it all.
As he trudged off the RFK Stadium turf Sunday following his team's fourth MLS Cup final loss in six years, he had the look of a broken man, as did many of his teammates.
"We are just devastated right now. There is not much to say, we are all feeling the same thing," Revolution captain Steve Ralston said.
Even team owner Robert Kraft was grumpy after the game, lecturing the elevator attendant for not arranging for him and his family to be the first ride from the fourth floor of RFK - where both the press box and luxury boxes are located - to the first floor where he could make a quick exit. Kraft was probably in a hurry to watch his more successful franchise, the New England Patriots, wax the Buffalo Bills 56-10 on Sunday Night Football.
The Revs had so much promise heading into the rematch of the 2006 MLS Cup final against the Houston Dynamo - just the second team in league history to win back-to-back titles after Sunday's 2-1 victory.
New England was healthy and had all of its main players available for the first time in the final, while the Dynamo were without top forward Brian Ching because of injury and top defensive midfielder Ricardo Clark because of suspension.
New England had 10 days to prepare for the match in Washington, D.C. - a much closer commute for the Revolution than for the Dynamo, who had to travel from Houston.
"They've all been tough (losses in the finals) but I think this is tough just because it was our opportunity," Revs defender Jay Heaps said.
The Revs seemed like the more hungry team after losing the past two finals and three of the last five, all in extra time or penalty kicks.
New England felt like it had exorcised its demons of falling short in domestic finals after winning the '07 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas - the site of the team's MLS Cup losses in '05 and '06 - in early October.
Even with all that in its favor, New England came up short.
"They've all been tough (losses in the finals) but I think this is tough just because it was our opportunity," said Revs defender Jay Heaps, who was out-jumped by '07 MLS Cup MVP Dwayne De Rosario before he headed home the game-winner on Sunday. "I wish I could put it into words how tough it feels."
Perhaps these comments from Twellman to MLSnet.com will shed more light on the state of mind of the Revolution after their latest heartbreaking loss.
"I'm not mad, I'm not sad, it's just nothing. I've got nothing in me," he said.
After scoring all three of the Revs' goals this postseason, including the first goal on Sunday to put his team up 1-0, Twellman had nothing left to give. The way the Revs have used MLS Cup finals losses to drive them in the past, however, Twellman and the Revs will have much more to give in an effort to finally get the monkey off their backs in '08.
"Let's go five of seven and see what happens," Twellman said.
DE ROSARIO IS DYNA-MITE
With a goal and an assist Sunday, Houston's De Rosario became the first player in MLS history to score two game-winners in the MLS Cup. He also became the first player to win two MLS Cup MVP awards after scoring a goal and setting up the equalizer Sunday.
"(Sunday's MLS Cup game-winner) was maybe not an exciting goal, but it was an important goal," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "If you look at some of the other goals he scored in the past (this one ranks right up there)."
De Rosario scored the goal after midfielder Brad Davis took control of the ball on the flank and fired a cross into the New England penalty area. The Canadian international then took a step back, jumped and fired a perfectly- placed header just between the near post and the hands of New England goalkeeper Matt Reis.
"I came out to challenge, it looked like it was going over (De Rosario's) head, so I came out to challenge and he was able to get a quick little jump and a great finish," Heaps said. "I've seen some great goals in some big games, but that one was pretty big."
"Brad served a perfect ball to my head and I just had the easy job of putting it in. The rest is history," De Rosario said.
"I can say laughingly that I can't believe (De Rosario) scored with his head," Kinnear quipped. "If you see him in practice he never does. I'm surprised he didn't take a step back and try to side-winder it. I think if you look at it, Dwayne is a bit humble when he said all he had to do was finish it, because it was a good ball from Brad (Davis) but it was an excellent header."
After New England took a 1-0 lead Sunday, it had numerous chances to add to the advantage. But with shots sailing high, wide or nowhere near the net, the team was unable to put the Dynamo in a deep hole in the first half of the final.
"If we were told before the game the chances we'd make in the game, I'd have been happy," New England coach Steve Nicol said. "It's real simple to me. If you don't take your chances and you leave a team hanging around, it comes back to bite you and that's exactly what happened today."
In the second half, the Dynamo switched from their 4-4-2 formation to a 3-5-2 to match the Revolution's formation, which led to more offensive possession while the Revs tightened up, seemingly to play for a 1-0 victory.
The result was two second-half goals from the Dynamo, and their second straight MLS Cup final victory over the Revs.
"It's the nature of the game ... we fought hard and we didn't take our chances but at the same time we were a great defensive team in these playoffs," Heaps said. "We are real disappointed in letting in a scrappy goal (the equalizer). A great goal you gotta let them have but the scrappy goal ... we have defended scrappy goals well all year and to let one in is a little disheartening.
"We were guilty of not taking our chances and that's why we lost the game," Nicol added.
THERE'S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR
With the '07 Major League Soccer season in the books, there are just over four months until the '08 season starts. There are also just under two months until the MSL SuperDraft in Baltimore...It has been reported by the Washington Post that the salary cap will be raised by about $150,000, giving each team roughly $2.3 million to spend on players next season, not including all but $400,000 of each designated player contract...With the league deciding to not add another designated player spot to each team next season, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Landon Donovan have been thrown a lifeline, according to a report from SI.com. On Friday, the league's Board of Governors approved an extension that will enable L.A., along with Kansas City and Dallas, to keep the players they had making over $400,000 before the DP rule without designating them as DPs. That means David Beckham and Donovan can play together in L.A. while Eddie Johnson and Carlos Ruiz won't count as DPs for their respective clubs either...MLS Commissioner Don Garber gave a breakdown of markets that could serve as expansion sites in the future on Friday, with the league in talks with potential owners in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami, Philadelphia, Montreal, New York, Portland, Ore., St. Louis and Vancouver, British Columbia. Philadelphia and St. Louis are the front-runners to be the league's 16th team.