Joseph Ngwenya
Bob Levey/

Dynamo notebook: Raising the pace

When Joseph Ngwenya arrived in Houston just five games into the season, he said all the right things about just wanting to fit in and contribute where he could.

Traded from Columbus for Alejandro Moreno, he brought the one thing to the table that no other forward on Dynamo's roster could.

"Pace," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said definitively. "The one thing we didn't have before we made that trade was someone who could stretch the defense a little bit. We felt like bringing him in could possibly do that and seeing him play in the past and I also heard he was a good guy but first and foremost it was pace to stretch the field a little bit."

Ngwenya played 25 games with Houston and finished tied for the team lead in goals (seven) with Brian Ching. That contrasting style to Ching and Nate Jaqua, who was acquired from Los Angeles shortly after Ngwenya arrived, proved very productive.

"My attributes are mainly speed, getting behind defenses but I was ready to step in where I was needed and help out," said the 26-year old Ngwenya. "It's a little easier playing with guys like this. It's a great group of guys, the service is great; it's not too hard to do well when you are playing with better players."

Though Ngwenya and Ching are Kinnear's first choice front-runners, Ngwenya is quite accustomed to playing alongside Jaqua. The two played together often when Ching was away on national team duty for significant portions of the season. With Ching questionable for Sunday's final, they are the most likely combination should Ching not be able to play.

"Joe has been another great find for us this year," said Ching. "He adds a different dimension than myself and Nate. I've partnered with him and Nate has partnered with him throughout the year and both sets of partnerships have worked out great for us so far."

Enigmatic yet intriguing, Ngwenya scored four goals in 22 games for Los Angeles in 2004, his rookie season. However, his next goal did not come until 2006 after being sent to Columbus, where he scored five in 20 games.

He welcomed the change of venue and integrating himself into his new, tightly knit team was seamless as well.

"The main difference is that these guys have been through this a lot, experience-wise in the playoffs," he said comparing Houston to Columbus. "Most of these guys from San Jose have been to two or three championship games.

"The only thing I knew from afar is that they were a championship team," he continued. "Even in San Jose this group was always right there either winning the Supporters Shield or doing well in the playoffs, winning the MLS Cup. Some of these guys have two, three four rings. When I got here, more than that it was a great bunch of guys; great team chemistry."

THE ONSTAD COMEDY HOUR: Well, it wasn't quite a full hour, but veteran Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad threw down some serious one-liners following his team's final training session before the MLS Cup Final.

When asked if playing in the MLS Cup gets old, the 39-year-old goalkeeper quipped, "No, not for me. And it don't get much older than me either."

In case there was any doubt Onstad, who has earned 48 caps with the Canadian national team, the Vancouver, B.C. native erased those thoughts with his next response.

"They're the best looking by far," Onstad said when asked about the sexiness of Canadian soccer players. "There's no doubt about it. There's really only two sexy guys in the final and that's Onstad and De Rosario. I'm just speaking from experience here."

SAY HEY, RFK: While the two teams will meet in the first repeat final, RFK Stadium is also making history Sunday as the first stadium to host three MLS Cup Finals. Ten years ago, D.C. United defeated Colorado 2-1, before 57,431 and in the 2000 final, Kansas City beat Chicago 1-0. Three other stadiums -- Foxboro Stadium, The Home Depot Center and Pizza Hut Park -- have hosted two MLS Cup Finals apiece.

"This (stadium) has a lot of soccer history, not just for American soccer, but for American sports," Kinnear said, also noting that the field was a bit "soft and slow. ... Hopefully we can add some memories tomorrow."

Dylan Butler and Chris Snear are contributors to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.