Top 50 MLS Cup Moments: #33 Saving Grace
|N. England 1||Houston 2|
De Rosario 74'
|Did You Know?|
|Jeff Larentowicz, the 45th overall pick of the 2005 Supplemental Draft, has played in the postseason in every year of his MLS career. He is yet to score a goal in 20 career playoff matches.|
33. Saving Grace (2007)
Dwayne De Rosario captured all the headlines for scoring Houston’s MLS Cup-winning goal against the New England Revolution in 2007.
But there was another play at the opposite end of the field executed by a fellow Canadian in the final minutes of the game that was just as crucial to the Dynamo’s title repeat.
The Men in Orange had stormed back in the second half to reverse the score line and take a 2-1 lead with just 16 minutes left in the match. Unwilling to finish as runners-up for the fourth time in club history – and third straight year – the Revolution launched a massive attack.
And that’s when Pat Onstad tightened up his goalkeeping gloves.
“I just remember them throwing everything at us but the kitchen sink,” recalled the former Houston netminder and current D.C. United goalkeeper coach.
The veteran weathered the storm in that last quarter of an hour, including a point-blank header from Revolution midfielder Jeff Larentowicz that will go down as one of Onstad’s best saves of his illustrious career – and one of the most memorable moments in an MLS Cup final.
Andy Dorman, who came on as a sub for New England in the 78th minute, served an in-swinging corner kick that curled around the pack at the front post and straight into the path of Larentowicz.
“Actually, Dwayne De Rosario loses his man – that’s his guy – and all I know is I know I wasn’t going to be able to get to it,” recalled Onstad. “Jeff was going to get there first, so I had to make myself big.”
Larentowicz flew in and connected solidly with his head from inside the six-yard box, but the 6-foot-4 Onstad stretched to miraculously knock the ball away with his left knee.
“Andy took the corner and I knew it was coming to me,” said Larentowicz, who finally won an MLS Cup as a Colorado Rapids player in 2010. “I did everything right. I was in the right spot, put my head on it and got it on goal. But Pat’s a good goalkeeper. I feel I did everything good, but he did everything a little bit better.”
Funny enough, the save was so instinctive a reaction save that Onstad didn’t even remember exactly how it unfolded at the moment.
“You’re kind of just in the moment. To be honest, at the time, I didn’t even think about until after when some of the guys said, ‘Hey, how about that save you made?’” Onstad said. “I couldn’t even recall it right then and there until I watched it later.”
Onstad got up after the play and high-fived teammate Eddie Robinson, while Larentowicz sat on the pitch, hands on his head in disbelief. Any fight the Revs had left in them was sapped by Onstad’s save.
“To win a championship, you need a game-changer, and that [play] was it for them,” said Jay Heaps, a New England defender at the time. “Jeff headed it perfectly, but it just happened that Onstad comes up and makes himself 6-foot-10. The power with which Jeff headed it, it didn’t seem Pat could get his body on it.
“When he did that, that was the moment where it failed to be our day again. That was the one that gutted us.”
Houston’s De Rosario may have earned Man of the Match accolades, but for striker Brian Ching, who still dons the Dynamo orange, the honor could have easily gone to Onstad.
“He always came ready and prepared and always made that big save in the big game when our team needed it,” Ching said. “And that’s just a testament to him and his mentality and approach in big games.”