FRISCO, Texas (AP) – Brian Ching scored the tying goal for Houston a little over a minute after New England’s Taylor Twellman struck what appeared to be the game-winner in overtime, and the Dynamo went on to win the MLS Cup on penalty kicks Sunday, 4-3.

Faced with a must-goal in the fifth and final set of penalty kicks for New England, Jay Heaps kicked a low line drive to the left side of the net that Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad easily blocked. Orange-clad Dynamo fans, many of whom made the nearly six-hour drive from Houston and dominated the stands, erupted in celebration as the franchise won the title after moving to Texas last year.

The championship was technically the third for the former San Jose Earthquakes, which won in 2001 and 2003.

The loss was the third defeat in the league championship for the Revolution, who were beaten 1-0 in overtime to Los Angeles last year. New England also made the final game and lost in 2002.

“We’ve lost every possible way we can lose in the finals,” Twellman said.

The game was the first MLS Cup final to be decided on penalty kicks – though in the second overtime, the Revolution appeared just minutes away from victory.

In the 113th minute, Twellman charged up the field, split two defenders and shot the ball into opposite corner of the net past sliding Dynamo defender Kelly Gray. But as Revolution fans continued to celebrate, Ching headed in the tying goal off a long cross from Brian Mullan.

“I didn’t think we were going to get one,” Ching said, “but we were going to die trying.”

Ching later scored the winning penalty kick in the fifth set, stutter-stepping on his approach before knocking the ball that skipped past New England’s Matt Reis’ outstretched hand. Ching was named the game’s MVP.

Each team made its first two penalty shots before the Revolution’s Pat Noonan, one of New England’s top strikers all season, skimmed his blast off the top of the crossbar.

Reis briefly saved New England by correctly guessing Brad Davis’ shot to the left side, but after Twellman forced a fifth set of kicks, Onstad pounced on Heaps’ shin-high shot to the left corner and was quickly buried under a pile of hollering and thrashing teammates who sprinted toward him from midfield.

Twellman especially didn’t like losing on penalty kicks – the same way Italy beat France to win the World Cup this summer.

“They should have just let us keep playing,” he said.

The Revolution lost another final in which they didn’t always play like big-game tested veterans, despite its two previous MLS Cup appearances and five straight Eastern Conference finals. In all, New England extended its scoreless streak in MLS Cup games to more than 336 minutes before Twellman’s goal, a drought that belies an offense that led all teams in the playoffs with 19 shots on goal.

Revolution midfielder Clint Dempsey, playing in perhaps his last MLS game if his desire to play in Europe next season comes true, didn’t start because of a strained right ankle. He entered the game in the 62nd minute – wearing yellow shoes perhaps a shade brighter than Houston’s orange jerseys – and energized New England’s attack in the second half.

That extra aggression resulted in Twellman breaking the scoreless tie, but the Revolution barely had a chance to celebrate before Ching found himself behind most of the defense and plunking a header past the arms of a diving Reis.

Houston finished second in the Western Conference, quickly finding a fan base after leaving San Jose because of low attendance. The city initially branded the team Houston 1836 before Hispanics complained the name offensively referred to the year Texas defeated Mexico for its independence.

The championship brought the first professional sports title to Houston since the WNBA’s Comets won the last of four straight titles in 2000.

AP-ES-11-12-06 2009EST

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