Hell of a season.
The funny thing about that phrase is that it’s never uttered to the champion. It’s a phrase reserved for the runner-up. Second-best. Close, but no cigar.
And so, as I sit here and write the eulogy for the ’06 Super Revs, the “hell of a season” for the local lads came to an end Sunday night on national TV, as they fought valiantly but ultimately fell to the Dynamo from Houston, 4-3 on penalty kicks.
It didn’t have to end this way.
In the 23rd minute of overtime, with both teams running on fumes after each failed to kiss the twine, Taylor Twellman netted what appeared to be the game-sealer, the proverbial shot to the mouth, the exclamation point, after battling for close two hours in the Mt. Everest match of the ’06 season. The celebration was raucous. Revs players, coaches and fans exulted as they took the 1-0 advantage with less than seven minutes left. Seven minutes from bringing back a championship to New England. And yet, as the exhilaration and glory of the goal, just taking shape in the memories of supporters and players alike, still fresh as a cabbage, was spoiled less than 70 seconds later.
As the Revs hurried to get back into its defensive stance, Houston’s Brian Ching connected on header that found its way behind Matt Reis. The thunderclap was sudden and abrupt, and soon rain began to fall on the Revs much-anticipated parade. And when the goal-scoring gods cried “Enough!” the teams went to penalty kicks minutes later.
With a Pat Noonan miss, and a Matt Reis save on Brad Davis, the Revs, in their final attempt, needed to score extend this extra-frame affair. It was Jay Heaps. The crafty vet. The consummate Rev player.
He was denied, along with the hopes of raising the MLS Cup among the naked trees and cool November air of New England. As my red, white and navy heart broke in two, the view of the players falling to their knees on my 32” Magnavox, surely out of exhaustion and despair was left an indellible image in my shaken conscious. With the fantasy of moving around vacation days to attend a celebratory parade suddenly shattered by cold, merciless reality, I succumbed to defeat. This yellow brick road, bright and promising, destined for Oz, was suddenly halted. Bridge Out. Detour. Find alternate route. And so concluded the 2006 edition of our soccer heroes.
It was a hell of a season.