Finally, Revolution enjoy slice of glory
FRISCO, Texas - Black plastic covered the Revolution locker room last night. And the coaches and players did the rest, spraying champagne into the air and onto each other for the first time in team history.
The Revolution took a 3-2 victory over FC Dallas in the 94th US Open Cup final before 10,618 at Pizza Hut Park, site of their two successive MLS Cup defeats. Captain Steve Ralston then stepped onto a stage at the halfway line, lifted the trophy, and passed it around to joyous teammates.
"It's the oldest tournament in the country and we're delighted to win," coach Steve Nicol said. "We've been here twice and we didn't want to lose again. It's huge for the psyche and it's a big weight off everyone's shoulders. This should help us relax and win more of them."
Pat Noonan (21st minute), Taylor Twellman (41st), and Wells Thompson (57th) scored as the Revolution controlled the pace of the match and exorcised some of the negative feelings associated with this two-year-old stadium just off the North Dallas Tollway.
"At the end of the game," Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis said, "we were a lot more relieved than anything else. We weren't overly excited and jubilant, we were relieved to get to another final and win it."
This was the Revolution's fifth final (three MLS Cups, two US Open Cups) and their first victory.
"This doesn't make up for the losses," said defender Jay Heaps, who has played in all five finals. "But it is a boost for our psyche. We have been so unlucky in finals and to get a good win is great. It's not about demons and ghosts, it's about going out and playing. You don't change hotel rooms and do things different. It's all about playing and keeping things the same way."
The Revolution started in a 3-5-2 alignment, Ralston moving to central midfield, Andy Dorman taking on the defensive role of Shalrie Joseph (suspended), and Thompson playing in Ralston's right wing spot. By the second half, though, the Revolution retreated into a 4-4-2 setup as Ralston moved to right back against a five-forward Dallas alignment.
Heaps's pass started the sequence for the first goal, the ball skipping past Pablo Ricchetti, Ralston continuing through on a 30-yard run. Ralston's cross was flicked on as defender Adrian Serioux attempted an acrobatic clearance in front of goalkeeper Dario Sala, Noonan controlling the ball with his left foot and finishing at the back post.
Carlos Ruiz penetrated near the goal area and went down in a 24th-minute clash with Michael Parkhurst, referee Alex Prus allowing play to continue. Arturo Alvarez tied the score in the 30th minute, advancing on the left and drilling a shot with the outside of his left foot into the far side of the net.
Dallas, which played without former Brazilian national team midfielder Denilson, who had been starting but was not on the bench, had two chances to take the lead. Reis came out of the penalty area to play the ball with his feet in the 36th minute as Dominic Oduro raced onto a James Riley headed backpass. Then, Alvarez advanced from the same angle as he had in scoring, this time carrying into the penalty area and firing point-blank for Reis to save in the 38th minute.
But the Revolution recovered their momentum. Noonan's cross was headed away by Clarence Goodson for a corner; Noonan then headed on Ralston's corner kick, Twellman sliding past Serioux to blast the shot in at the back post for a 2-1 lead.
Dallas went forward in an attempt to tie in the second half, but left itself open to counterattack. Riley's long clearance set up a Noonan-Twellman two on one. Twellman failed to catch up to Noonan's pass, however, and went to the left touch line to recover, then sent the ball into the penalty area for Noonan to backheel, Thompson finishing with a late run.
Abe Thompson cut the deficit seconds after replacing Alex Yi in the 64th minute, giving Dallas a four-forward formation. Serioux set up the score with a cross from the right, Goodson heading back across the penalty area for Thompson to finish with a low shot.
The Revolution then moved Ralston to right back and Dallas added Kenny Cooper as a fifth forward in the 77th minute.
"We've been to finals but we haven't been able to enjoy it," Heaps said. "It's an inspiration to win it and makes us just want to keep going. And to do it without Shalrie and Avery [John] shows this team has a lot of heart. Hopefully, this is a warm-up, an appetizer for the rest of the year. We want to give D.C. United a run for the Supporters Shield and go for the MLS Cup."
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.