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Revolution are kicking themselves again

FRISCO, Texas -- The Revolution found another way to lose an MLS Cup yesterday. They took the lead in the 113th minute on a Taylor Twellman goal, then surrendered the tying goal off the restart and fell to the Houston Dynamo on penalty kicks, 4-3, after a 1-1 tie, their third losing performance in the final in five years.

"The ball was in our court, we had seven minutes to defend and we lost track for 12 seconds and gave up a goal," Twellman said. "We have lost in every possible way in the final. Hopefully, we will have one more try, because it can't happen any other way. It's tough right now and this is going to sting for a while. I hope we can come back but you never know."

Twellman converted the first Revolution goal in 346 minutes of MLS final play, the team having overachieved in 2002 and underachieved in 2005 in 1-0 overtime losses to Los Angeles. This time, the Revolution seemed to have enough momentum and were able to control possession enough to have the edge over the Dynamo. And after Twellman scored on a left-foot shot from 16 yards, following a Khano Smith run on the left wing, the Revolution appeared in control in the eighth minute of the second session of extra time.

Twellman and several teammates ran 100 yards toward the opposite corner of Pizza Hut Park, where the Revolution lost last year's final, to acknowledge the cheers of a section of New England fans, then set up for the kickoff. The Dynamo, who won the 2001 and '03 MLS Cups as the San Jose Earthquakes, tied the score just after the kickoff, 71 seconds after Twellman's goal.

The tying score was set up by a Brian Mullan cross from the right that deflected off Avery John. Brian Ching snuck between Jay Heaps and Michael Parkhurst before heading inside the left post.

"The key was we lose a goal after we scored," Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. "We expect us to be solid, they get a deflection and a great header. It wasn't a great ball. But when you score so late in the game the one thing you expect is to be solid and tight."

After 120 minutes of play, Houston won the penalty kick shootout as Pat Onstad stopped Heaps's low, slow-rolling shot in the fifth round. The Revolution's Pat Noonan sent a penalty off the top of the crossbar in the third round but Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis saved Brad Davis's shot in the fourth. Ching converted the next Houston kick, sending the shot into the right side of the net, and Heaps was stopped.

"Unfortunately for Heapsy, he didn't strike his as well and the goalkeeper saved it," Nicol said.

Clint Dempsey (ankle), who entered the game as a second-half substitute, and Steve Ralston (groin) were not among the top five Revolution penalty-takers because of injury, Nicol said.

The Revolution struggled in the opening minutes, sending the opening kickoff over the end line. Houston nearly capitalized after the goal kick as Davis hit the left post off a cross from Mullan. Houston's best first-half opportunity by Mullan went high (20th minute) and Twellman's header (25th) was saved by Onstad following a quick-strike buildup involving Heaps, Ralston, Twellman, Andy Dorman, and a Joe Franchino cross.

The Dynamo, who started the game in a 4-4-2 setup, began struggling to gain possession and switched formations to match the Revolution's 3-5-2 later in the first half. Yet, the Revolution had the best of play after halftime.

Reis stopped a point-blank Wade Barrett shot at the back post after Ching whiffed on a Mullan cross (66th minute). Dempsey barely missed a Noonan cross (71st) from the edge of the goal area, defender Craig Waibel clearing. The Revolution continued to pressure through regulation time, Ching clearing in the goal area off a Heaps header (86th).

The Dynamo sent every player into defense, dropping Ching and substitute striker Alejandro Moreno into the penalty area to contend corners and only selectively counterattacking. Houston's only serious threats in extra time before the tying goal were an advance by Moreno that was halted (93d) by Parkhurst and a long drive by Dwayne De Rosario deflected by Shalrie Joseph (108th).

Meanwhile, the Revolution went on the attack, playing through Daniel Hernandez and Joseph in midfield and adding Smith (53d) and Dempsey (62d) in place of Franchino and Dorman. Barrett headed a Dempsey header off the goal line (98th). And Revolution pressure led to cautions issued by referee Jair Marrufo to Ryan Cochrane (99th) for a foul on Dempsey and Waibel (103d) for taking down Smith.

Smith set up the first goal by going past Mullan and running 50 yards with the ball, then laying off for Twellman near the top of the penalty area, Twellman sending a left-foot shot to the far side of the net. Less than two minutes later, though, the game was tied again.

"Houston had the wind and we obviously knew they were going to come at us," Twellman said. "It was a fluke goal and you know it's not your day when that happens. After 120 minutes of pure running, it's a crappy way to lose a game and a crappy way to win. You want to either win or lose on a normal goal."

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