Top 50 MLS Cup Moments: #3 Rapid Response
N. England 1
|T. Twellman 113'|
|Did You Know?|
|Taylor Twellman’s opening goal at MLS Cup 2006 represented the New England Revolution's first goal in an MLS Cup final in three tries. It ended a scoreless drought of five hours and 46 minutes (113 minutes in MLS Cup 2002, 120 minutes in MLS Cup 2005 and 113 minutes in MLS Cup 2006).|
#3. Rapid Response (2006)
It was the most dramatic, heart-breaking, vivifying 72 seconds in MLS Cup history.
It was two teams that defined the decade – one with its titles, the other with its “agony of defeat” moments.
It was two strikers doing what they do best, two fanbases on opposite ends of the spectrum, two goals that will live forever in MLS Cup lore.
“It was, I think, one of those things that you’ll remember forever,” said Houston striker Brian Ching. “At least, I know I will. It doesn’t get much bigger than that moment.”
“That moment” was Ching’s game-tying goal in the 114th minute, just 72 seconds after Taylor Twellman had put the Revolution up 1-0 off a slip pass from Khano Smith. The Dynamo were dead and New England just minutes away from ending their MLS Cup curse, but in the blink of an eye, the big Hawaiian was there to get on the end of a Brian Mullan cross and equalize.
“Teams are vulnerable right after they score and we used that to our advantage,” said Houston’s Dwayne De Rosario, who knows a thing or two about game-winning postseason goals. “Right from the kickoff, I played the ball forward to Mullan. Mullan took one or two touches and played it to Ching sprinting to the box.
“It was great commitment from all the guys to tie that game and right after they scored, it took the momentum from New England and put them back on their heels. They were starting to feel the pressure. To go from such a high after scoring in a game like that to being tied in a matter of seconds, you can imagine what kind of feeling that was.”
It was the ultimate gut-punch. The Revs went on to lose in penalties, and it’s a defeat that stings to this day.
“I hate playing the shoulda, coulda, woulda game,” Twellman says today. “2006 is the perfect example of that. Why wasn't there golden goal? Why did the ball deflect off of [Avery] John's head, over [Jay] Heaps' head onto Ching, wide open? All those questions linger and will continue to linger for the rest of my life.”
For then-New England midfielder Jeff Larentowicz – who would eventually get a Cup with Colorado in 2010 – the wound probably isn’t as raw. But it’s still very real, if a bit of a blur.
“They played it wide, crossed it in, it deflected off Avery’s head, and Ching is able to knock it in,” Larentowicz said. “There was really no time to think about what happened until after the play. It all happened so quickly, I didn’t really have time to soak it in.”
There’s been plenty of time for Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear to reflect on the goal over the past five years. And the bottom line? Sometimes you just can’t beat good luck.
“It was the craziest 60 seconds, maybe in MLS Cup history,” Kinnear said recently. “If you look at it, a little bit of luck because that cross by Brian [Mullan] got deflected and it fell perfectly to Brian [Ching]. When you look at what he does, his adjustment to the ball to get the right amount of power on it, it was an impressive goal.
“You need some luck along the way.”