WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Houston Dynamo won a second consecutive Major League Soccer title Sunday because Zimbabwean Joseph Ngwenya stole New England's heart and Canadian midfielder Dwayne De Rosario swiped the trophy.
Ngwenya struck from the seat of his pants for the equalizer in the 61st minute and De Rosario nodded in a rare header in the 74th to give Dynamo a 2-1 victory over the Revolution in the MLS Cup final.
"We proved how strong a will our team has," De Rosario said. "Our dedication and determination, the will to never give up, is always there. To win back-to-back is special. This moment will live in our hearts forever."
On the same pitch where England star David Beckham made his MLS debut in August, Dynamo won the club's fourth title in seven years and matched DC United as the only back-to-back champions in the 12-season history of the US league.
"This is a team that should be talked about for years to come," Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear said. "It was definitely tough to repeat. For us to be standing here after the start we got shows how steely and determined these players are."
New England fell to 0-4 in MLS finals, having lost to Houston last year on penalty kicks and in overtime to Los Angeles in both 2002 and 2005. Revolution coach Steve Nicol said their history of title losses had no role in the loss.
"This had nothing to do with any other game. You leave a team hanging around and it comes back to bite you. That's what happened," the former Scottish standout said. "We're guilty of not taking our chances. That's why we lost.
"Their first goal probably shouldn't have gotten that far. That goal was a scrappy goal. We never got back. We got undone. It changed the game."
Taylor Twellman's header in the 20th minute gave New England a 1-0 lead but Houston switched from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2 alignment and leveled when Ngwenya, playing for injured Dynamo forward Brian Ching, slid home a goal from the turf.
Ngwenya lost control of a centering pass five meters from the goal and fell to the grass, then swung out his right leg and flicked the ball beneath diving Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis and across the line to level the match.
"We had a lot of scrappy goals all year and to let one in was really disheartening," said Revolution defender Jay Heaps, who played in all four of New England's finals losses.
"They have all been tough. This was tough because it was our opportunity. I wish I could put into words how tough it feels."
De Rosario, voted the MLS Cup Most Valuable Player, leaped high for a pass from Davis at the top of the penalty area 13 minutes later and the 29-year-old midfielder smacked a header past Reis for the winner.
"I've seen some great goals in some big games but that one was big," Heaps said.
De Rosario almost never works on headers in practice but his noggin nodded nicely when needed most.
"I don't score with my head. It was more instinct than anything else," De Rosario said. "I usually try to bicycle or volley it but heading it was the first thought that came into my head.
"Brad played a perfect ball to my head and I had the easy job putting it in. The rest was history."
Kinnear had pondered playing conservatively after the equalizer but his team was determined to stay aggressive.
"The guys' mentality to keep on attacking even after the equalizer, give them full credit for that," Kinnear said.
The Dynamo have a chance for an unprecedented third crown in a row in 2008.
"It's a challenge we will be excited to face," Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad said. "To come back in the second half, it shows how much it means to these guys and how determined they are to win."
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