Throwing traditional cup final wisdom to the wind, the New England Revolution secured their first piece of hardware with a 3-2 victory against FC Dallas in an attacking, pulsating Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final at Pizza Hut Park. Wells Thompson sealed his place in club lore with his second professional goal proving the deciding factor in a wide-open final.
Pat Noonan opened the scoring on 21 minutes after slotting home a deflection at the far post. Arturo Alvarez equalized nine minutes later with a cultured finish with the outside of his left foot. Taylor Twellman restored the Revolution advantage just before the break from a Steve Ralston corner kick.
Thompson grabbed New England's third, and the eventual game-winner, 12 minutes after the break after buildup play from Twellman and Noonan before Abe Thompson tallied less than a minute after entering the game to halve the deficit in the 64th minute. But FC Dallas paid for its defensive frailty and could not muster an equalizer.
With Shalrie Joseph suspended after his dismissal in the semifinal victory against Carolina RailHawks, Revolution head Steve Nicol made one change from Saturday's lineup, inserting Wells Thompson at right midfield in place of Joseph. Andy Dorman dropped back into the defensive midfield slot, yielding his attacking midfield role to Steve Ralston.
FC Dallas head coach Steve Morrow shocked everyone by leaving Denilson out of his matchday squad. The Brazilian has struggled for form and Morrow made the brave move to leave him out altogether, preferring to deploy Dominic Oduro and Arturo Alvarez just behind Carlos Ruiz in attack. The move sparked FC Dallas from the opening whistle, with the Hoops looking more comfortable and assured than in previous matches.
Despite FC Dallas's dominance in possession, Morrow's side looked shaky in the back. New England exploited the rickety back four and seized the lead against the run of play in the 21st minute. Pablo Ricchetti gave the ball up outside the FC Dallas penalty area to Ralston on the right wing. Ralston crossed into the penalty area. Adrian Serioux knocked it over Dario Sala at the near post to the waiting Noonan on the back post to tap into the open net.
Carlos Ruiz saw his shouts for a penalty dismissed by referee Alex Prus after tangling with Michael Parkhurst in the area three minutes later. Contact occurred, but appeared more incidental than incendiary. But Alvarez leveled sensationally on 30 minutes as he exploited the space created by David Wagenfuhr's run, cutting inside and slicing his 16-yard strike off the right post and into the net past Matt Reis.
Boosted by the strike, Alvarez nearly doubled his tally in the 38th minute after playing a one-two with Ruiz to send him behind the Revolution defense. Matt Reis stormed out and deflected the low effort out of danger with his feet.
New England stormed down the field three minutes later and scored the go-ahead goal. Ralston's corner kick found Noonan's head, but Noonan's header deflected off Ruiz's back towards the back post. Twellman beat Serioux to the ball and smashed home from six yards to restore the Revolution advantage. Ricchetti limped off at halftime with an apparent recurrence of a nagging hamstring injury, forcing Serioux into defensive midfield and bringing Alex Yi into central defense. Twellman should have challenged the goalkeeper on 48 minutes after being sent through, but dragged his effort narrowly wide of the far post.
The third Revolution goal beckoned and Twellman provided the initial service to make it happen in the 57th minute. Noonan overhit a pass on a two versus one opportunity, sending Twellman into the corner to chase the stray effort. Twellman hit a low cross into the area, which Noonan backheeled into Thompson's path. The rookie scored his second professional goal to give New England a two-goal cushion. FC Dallas struck back seven minutes later. Serioux, who picked up his play after moving into midfield, hit a deep cross to the back post. Clarence Goodson rose to head across, where Thompson, on the field for less than a minute, struck from 10 yards to slice the deficit in half.
Morrow threw on Kenny Cooper with 15 minutes to go in an attempt to find the equalizer. The appearance was Cooper's first since breaking his leg against Los Angeles on June 9. FCD thought it had secured the equalizer 10 minutes from time. Dominic Oduro finished with aplomb to the far post, but he sneaked offside just prior to collecting the ball. It was the closest the Hoops would come, as New England secured a first-ever title.