The New England Revolution won their first SuperLiga crown in a penalty shootout when the Houston Dynamo's Corey Ashe rang the crossbar in the eighth round of penalty kicks after the teams drew 2-2 after extra time.
With the score level at 1-1 entering extra time, the teams scored four minutes apart. Kei Kamara leapt to head home in the 98th minute, but Shalrie Joseph popped up to head home a free kick in the 102nd.
Then in the fifth round of penalty kicks, Khano Smith stepped up with a chance to give the Revolution the crown. But Pat Onstad saved the effort. The next six shooters all converted until Ashe fired off the bar.
Nate Jaqua opened the scoring after 18 minutes after Amaechi Igwe turned the ball over inside his own box. Steve Ralston tied the score four minutes before halftime with a volley from a Mauricio Castro cross.
Eddie Robinson (hamstring) and Richard Mulrooney (knee) did not travel for the Dynamo. Geoff Cameron continued at center back beside Bobby Boswell in Robinson's absence. Nate Jaqua and Brian Ching partnered up top once again after Jaqua set up Ching for a goal in Saturday's 2-0 win against Columbus. Selection problems also hampered the home team, with Jay Heaps suspended and Michael Parkhurst away on Olympic duty. Amaechi Igwe partnered Jeff Larentowicz in the center of defense. Rookie Chris Tierney started at left back.
The match started at breakneck pace with both teams seeking to attack the perceived weaknesses on defense. The Dynamo's Wade Barrett had to come back quickly to hook a ball over his own end line from a cross through the box. Dwayne De Rosario hit the post after just four minutes after jinking through the Revolution defense and hooking his effort towards the near post. Joseph nearly responded on both ends. Joseph's long-distance drive kept rising just over the bar, before he almost knocked the ball over the bar with his thigh. The cadence for a goal kept building as Mauricio Castro's free kick just missed the upper left corner with Onstad stranded.
But when the goal came, it came from the oddest of circumstances. Cameron lumped a free kick down the center of the field. No Dynamo player challenged and Reis looked likely to come out and collect it. Igwe decided to clear it with his back to the ball and shanked it right to Jaqua. The burly striker made no mistake to give the Dynamo the lead.
It should have been two just a minute later from another Igwe giveaway let Jaqua slide a ball to Ching with space inside the area. Ching didn't make good contact with his strike, but managed to knock it off before the ball trickled away from danger.
Steve Ralston tested Onstad at his near post with a free kick, but the Canadian international reacted smartly to push it around the post for a corner kick. Sainey Nyassi should have tested Onstad minutes latter after a quick buildup from left wing to right wing gave him space at the far post, but Nyassi managed to drive his effort off the side netting. The Revs were growing in confidence and generated a penalty shout in the 33rd minute. Nyassi jumped to meet a corner kick at the far post only to see Craig Waibel barge him in the back. Referee Howard Webb wasn't impressed, much to the chagrin of the Revolution players.
Houston responded quickly through De Rosario. A thumping shot forced Reis into an acrobatic save at the near post after the Revs couldn't hack it clear. De Rosario then got in behind the defense moments later with another route one service. After rounding Reis, De Rosario slid a ball towards goal before Larentowicz recovered and cleared the goal-bound effort. Tierney's turn to clear off the line came quickly afterwards after Reis came for a corner kick and couldn't collect. Jaqua shot towards goal, but Tierney managed to keep it out and get it clear.
Just when Houston looked to score the killer second, New England conjured up the equalizer. Castro's right-footed cross found Ralston at the far post and the Revs captain smashed home his volley to equalize.
Another defensive giveaway nearly put the Revs in front three minutes before the break. Bobby Boswell coughed it up on the edge of his penalty area. Kheli Dube surged into the penalty area and whacked his effort towards goal. Onstad charged out of his goal and diverted the ball out of harm's way.
The early stages of the second half didn't produce nearly the amount of chances as in the first half. The frantic pace settled down to merely a frenetic pace, one where both teams still tried to surge forward but didn't connect nearly as well. Half-chances ruled as Jaqua shanked wide after Ching played him in and substitute Khano Smith cut inside and drove towards Onstad. Extra time loomed, and Igwe ensured it would arrive after tackling Davis as he shaped to shoot in second-half stoppage time.
Kamara headed the Dynamo in front in the 98th minute. Ching drove a curling ball into the box. Reis looked like he should have punched away, but didn't get to the ball in time. Kamara nodded into the vacated net to restore the Dynamo's lead. That lead lasted just four minutes. Ralston lofted a free kick up towards the far post. Joseph wrestled away from Bobby Boswell and directed his header into the far side netting.
That would be enough to drive the match into penalties, and the crossbar emerged as New England's hero after Ashe's shot caromed away to give the Revs the SuperLiga crown.
Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution
August 05, 2008 -- Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA
SuperLiga -- Final
HOU -- Nate Jaqua 1 (unassisted) 18
NE -- Steve Ralston 1 (Mauricio Castro 1) 41
HOU -- Kei Kamara 1 (Brian Ching 2) 98
NE -- Shalrie Joseph 3 (Steve Ralston 4) 102
NE -- Steve Ralston (Goal)
HOU -- Craig Waibel (Goal)
NE -- Matt Reis (High)
HOU -- Chris Wondolowski (Goal)
NE -- Shalrie Joseph (Goal)
HOU -- Dwayne De Rosario (Saved)
NE -- Taylor Twellman (Goal)
HOU -- Brian Ching (Saved)
NE -- Khano Smith (Saved)
HOU -- Ricardo Clark (Goal)
NE -- Jeff Larentowicz (Goal)
HOU -- Wade Barrett (Goal)
NE -- Chris Tierney (Goal)
HOU -- Kei Kamara (Goal)
NE -- Chris Albright (Goal)
HOU -- Corey Ashe (Crossbar)
Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Craig Waibel, Bobby Boswell, Wade Barrett, Brian Mullan (Corey Ashe 79), Geoff Cameron, Ricardo Clark, Dwayne De Rosario, Brad Davis (Chris Wondolowski 110), Brian Ching, Nate Jaqua (Kei Kamara 72).
Substitutes Not Used: unavailable.
New England Revolution -- Matt Reis, Chris Albright, Amaechi Igwe, Chris Tierney, Sainey Nyassi, Shalrie Joseph, Jeff Larentowicz, Steve Ralston, Mauricio Castro (Khano Smith 71), Kheli Dube (Adam Cristman 90), Kenny Mansally (Taylor Twellman 58).
Substitutes Not Used: unavailable.
HOU -- Brad Davis (caution) 14
NE -- Shalrie Joseph (caution) 82
Referee: Howard Webb (ENG)
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey, Hector Vergara
4th official: Jorge Gonzalez
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-71-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial