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Spark lacking in Revolution game

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / August 17, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - Among the downsides of MLS expansion drafts and spending limits is the short-circuiting of rivalries. The Revolution and Houston Dynamo seemed to be developing a rivalry as they met in consecutive MLS Cup finals in 2006 and ’07. But tension between the teams has dissipated as players have moved on.

When the Revolution and Dynamo meet tonight, their rosters will include a total of five players who competed in the ’07 final in Washington, D.C.

“I think there’s a lot of history but not so much a rivalry,’’ said Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane, who started for Houston in the ’07 title game. “I don’t think there’s a lot of bad blood between the teams. There is a bigger rivalry with us and D.C., and Philly, to a certain extent.

“I think you see when there’s a rivalry, there’s tension between the teams, bad blood, guys kind of really dislike each other. With us, there’s been a lot of turnover, but there is a lot of mutual respect.

“There is a history going back to ’06 and we’ve had a lot of games since then. There are a lot of the same faces but there is a little bit less of a rivalry. We’re looking forward to a good game.’’

Houston defeated the Revolution in the MLS Cup in 2006 and ’07, and neither team has returned to the final. The Revolution got their ’08 season off to a spirited start with a 3-0 victory over the Dynamo and later that year earned some vengeance with a SuperLiga final victory over Houston. But the teams have not had many meaningful meetings since.

An indication of the teams’ strengths four years ago is that both the Dynamo (Stuart Holden) and Revolution (Andy Dorman) had a player in reserve who would go on to a lucrative career in England. But both teams have struggled to remain competitive in recent seasons. Houston (7-7-10, 31 points) is in fourth place and the Revolution (4-11-9, 21 points) in eighth in the Eastern Conference with 10 games remaining in the regular season.

“Things haven’t gone our way,’’ said Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis. “But if you look at the whole scheme of things, we’re only 9 points out of a playoff spot, and we have quite a few games against Eastern Conference teams. So, there is a chance to move up the ladder.

“But the time is now. We can’t wait until next game, wait until next game. We have to start putting in better performances all around. We have to start getting results. We can’t just have seven guys have a good game and three or four not have a good game. We all have to have a great game.’’

Cochrane is familiar with late-season rallies, a formula that worked well for both the Dynamo and Revolution until recently.

“Playing with them, I know they can go through swings in the season,’’ Cochrane said of the Dynamo. “They start out slow and peak towards the end of the year. And I’m sure they’re trying to peak towards the end of the season again.

“It’s always fun to play against your old team, and there’s always something extra for me. We need points right now. Every point we get is important. We’re on the outside looking in, so we have to do something and try and grind it out.’’

Cochrane, Reis, Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph, and Houston midfielder Brad Davis are the only players from the ’07 MLS Cup final expected to start tonight . . . The Revolution’s point total is their lowest after 24 games since 1998 (6-17-1, 19 points) . . . Cochrane and A.J. Soares have not played together in central defense for an entire game since June 10 (2-1 loss at New York).

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at

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