Those that said that last night's SuperLiga final would be a glorified friendly had no idea what they were talking about. At Gillette Stadium, New England and Houston put on a thrilling, intense, physical, advertisement for American soccer that ended in the eighth round of penalty kicks when the Dynamo's Corey Ashe hit the crossbar with his attempt, giving the Revs the SuperLiga title.
But New England didn't back into it's first win over Houston in three finals meetings. The Revolution, playing with out regulars Jay Heaps (red card) and Michael Parkhurst (Olympics) twice came back from a goal down, once in the first half and once in extra time, to force penalty kicks. Revs coach Steve Nicol survived a questionable decision by letting New England keeper Matt Reis kick attempt the team's second pk, which Reis missed badly.
Man-of-the-match Reis then redeemed himself by stopping tries by Houston's Dwyane DeRosario and Brian Ching before New England's Chris Albright lashed the Revs' eighth attempt pash Dynamo keeper Pat Onstad. When Ashe's try hit the crossbar, the vocal New England crowd of 9,200+ erupted in joy in seeing their team finally vanquish Houston, who had defeated their Revs both the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup Finals.
With the SuperLiga victory, New England has the chance to become the first MLS side to collect four major trophies in a single year. The Revs take on DC United in the US Open Cup semifinals at RFK on the 12th. New England, currently on top of the MLS Standings, is in position to win its first Supporters' Shield, and of course MLS Cup looms in November. The Revolution also opens play in the inaugural Concacaf Champions League against Trinidad's Joe Public on the 26th, but that title won't be determined until next April.
Great to see Revs and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on the Gillette Stadium field after the match, receiving the SuperLiga trophy from team captain Steve Ralston and celebrating with the team and fans... Perhaps as a show of solidarity over the small percentage of the tournament's million-dollar prize going to players, the Revs did not join MLS Commissioner Garber on the winner's podium, but rather Ralston quickly took the tournament trophy without much fanfare, leaving the confetti cannons and fireworks to erupt on their own... Nice to see Dynamo coach Dom Kinnear's and Chris Albright's take part in interviews with the TeleFutura sideline reporter in Spanish... Referee Howard Web, on loan from the English Premier League, was laudatory in a post-match interview of the quality of play, and compared it favorably to an EPL match.