The MLS Multiplex on the FanSided Network continues its series of looking back at the past 19 MLS Cup finals heading into the 2015 Major League Soccer season. In this segment, we take a look back at the 2007 MLS Cup final between the Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution, This marked the rematch of the 2006 final, which saw Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo prevail over Steve Nicol’s Revs.
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2007 was a landmark year for the league in a number of ways. Heralded as the beginning of the modern era of Major League Soccer, the 2007 season saw six MLS clubs sell advertisements at the front of their jerseys: Real Salt Lake (XanGo), Houston (Amigo Energy), Toronto FC (BMO), Chivas USA (Comex), the Los Angeles Galaxy (Herbalife), and the New York Red Bulls (Red Bull). The regular season was reduced to 30 matches. Two new soccer-specific stadiums were erected: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. for the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC’s BMO Field in Toronto, Ont.
But the biggest change to come from Major League Soccer was the arrival of the Designated Player Rule. At the time, this allowed one big-ticket foreign player to play for a team without going against the salary cap. Today, the rule allows three big-ticket players to play for a team without going against the salary cap. Cuauhtemoc Blanco came to the Chicago Fire, Juan Pablo Angel was signed by the New York Red Bulls, Luciano Emilio came to D.C. United, Denilson signed with FC Dallas and Guillermo Barros Schelotto signed with the Columbus Crew.
But no Designated Player came close to the star power that David Beckham brought. Signed by the LA Galaxy, Beckham’s name helped make Los Angeles the glamour club that it now is. While at this time, the Galaxy would still be undergoing a period of transition, it wouldn’t be long before Beckham’s legacy at the Galaxy became set in stone.
Meanwhile, the Houston Dynamo were riding off a successful 2006 campaign and were looking to keep the ball rolling in 2007. One of the players picked up in the SuperDraft, North Carolina midfielder Corey Ashe, would go on to be a major player in the Dynamo’s long-term success for years. Ashe joined a talented lineup of players for Houston, including midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, forward Paul Dalglish, midfielder Chris Wondolowski, goalkeeper Pat Onstad, forward Brian Ching, midfielder Stuart Holden, midfielder Brad Davis and defenders Eddie Robinson and Craig Waibel.
Houston finished the regular season with a record of 15-8-7 (52 points), good for second place in the West behind Chivas USA, whose high point came this season. The Dynamo began their postseason with a 4-2 aggregate victory over FC Dallas in the Western Conference Semifinals.
In the first leg at Toyota Stadium (then known as Pizza Hut Park), Dallas prevailed. 1-0. But in the second leg at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Tex., following a 1-0 victory in regulation, the Dynamo routed FC Dallas, 4-1. Holden (67′), Ching (72′, 97′) and Davis (100′) scored for Houston. In the Western Conference Championship at home, goals from Nate Jaqua (35′) and De Rosario (81′) powered Houston to a 2-0 shutout win over the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City).
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New England were competing with the Galaxy for the honors of being the most futile club in terms of postseason success. Nicol’s Revs were hoping 2007 would be their year. They had aces of their own in goalkeeper Matt Reis; defenders Jay Heaps (now the team manager) and Michael Parkhurst; midfielders Jeff Larentowicz, Steve Ralston and Shalrie Joseph; and forwards Pat Noonan and current ESPN commentating mind Taylor Twellman. The Revolution ended the 2007 regular season with a record of 14-8-8 (50 points), good for second in the MLS Eastern Conference.
New England started their postseason campaign with a 1-0 aggregate win over the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. After a scoreless draw in the first leg at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., a goal from Twellman in the 64th minute in the second saw the Revs through to the Eastern Conference Championship. Twellman was again the hero in that match with the Chicago Fire, scoring in the 38th minute of play for another 1-0 victory.
MLS Cup 2007 took place on Nov. 18, 2007 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., with Alex Prus the man in the middle. Twellman gave the Revolution the lead in the 20th minute, but the Dynamo were able to rally back with goals from Joseph Ngwenya (61′) and De Rosario (74′) for a 2-1 win and Houston’s second MLS Cup. This would also be Houston’s last MLS Cup to date, as they would make the final two more times, only to fall flat to the Los Angeles Galaxy.