West SIIIDE! LA Galaxy go deep into OT to win the 2005 MLS Cup

By Andrew Dixon, III
Updated: November 15, 2005


Redemption for a coach still vilified in some circles.

Redemption for an organization that made a controversial move to bring him in.

Redemption for a player who had disappointed all season.

Redemption for a franchise that slept walked through regular season only to knock off the two top teams in MLS to claim their 2nd domestic championship.

There were more redemption themes than Pulp Fiction in Dallas on Sunday as the LA Galaxy overcame their own inner turmoil to defeat the New England Revolution 1-0 and become the first team since the Chicago Fire in 1998 to complete the double by winning both the MLS and US Open Cups in the same year.

Both of these teams brought credible offenses to the table. The Steve Nicol coached Revolution relied heavily MVP Taylor Twellman throughout the season as well as American hopeful Clint Dempsey and Grenada International (and MLS Best XI) mid-fielder Shalrie Joseph who has become the premier defensive midfielder in the league.

LA, coached by former US National Team coach, Steve Sampson, was not starved for offense either, with all things flowing through American international Landon Donovan, rising star Herculez (Herculez) Gomez and still getting significant contributions from 35 year old Cobi Jones on the right flank.

Old School: Cobi Jones (Pasadena Star)

Old School: Cobi Jones (Pasadena Star)

However the story of this game would be in LA�s backline, anchored by Jamaican Reggae Boy, Tyrone Marshall and young American Ugo Ihemelu that would stymie New England�s potent strike force.

In fact the defense and hard fouls carried this game. 51 total fouls and ten yellow cards were produced throughout this match. It was clear that neither team would allow any easy break-aways but the creativity that one expects to see in a Cup Final was not on display for a majority of this match. Neither team was able to muster a shot on goal in the first half, the best chance for New England being Joseph�s 29th minute header over the bar while LA could only get as close as a Gomez shot into the side netting 41 minutes in.

After what had to have been the longest halftime show since the one in “The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh” New England tried to break down the resolute LA defense but Twellman once again folded like a piece of human oragami in a Cup Final, doing nothing against Marshall and Ihemelu. New England also had NO flank play and did not get its first shot on goal until the 62nd minute, a Jay Heaps effort that was saved by Galaxy GK Kevin Hartman. Attacking options off the bench were limited as Bermuda�s Khano Smith was unable to play due to injury and only materialized in the form of Jose Cancela who came on in the 64th minute.

As the game moved into the 75th minute, LA started stepping up the pressure. Donovan tried to toe poke a shot from close range only to have it saved from Rookie of the Year Michael Parkhurst. On 80 minutes, Gomez broke in on goal, one on one with the keeper only to chip his potential Cup winner just over the cross bar. An 83rd minute cross from Donovan came to Cobi (don�t call me Kobe) Jones but the dread-locked former UCLA walk-on could only blast his shot off the cross bar to the relief of Revs keeper Matt Reis.

90 minutes would not settle this final and for the 2nd time, LA and New England would play two 15 minute overtimes to decide MLS� champion.

Cancela almost put New England in front nine minutes in. James Riley launched a cross into the box that fell to the Uruguayan. His fierce shot brought Robert Kraft out his seat, but the Revolution�s owner who blew off watching his other team (the New England Patriots) to see the Revs capture its first title, was heartbroken to see Hartman make a point blank save.

In the final minute of the first OT session, Riley needlessly gave away a corner kick. Donovan played the corner in from the right side. Reis punched the ball to the top of the box where Guatemala�s Pando Ramirez scissor kicked a right footed volley past 3 defenders and into the back of the net.

In a match where physical play stifled creativity, it took one moment of sheer brilliance to break the deadlock but NO ONE could have predicted Ramirez, who started the season one of the focal points of the offense and ended it firmly on the bench with one goal in almost 80 shot attempts, would be the one who provide it. The Galaxy were now just 15 minutes from Cup glory.

New England did not give up. Clint Dempsey had a chance to tie it but his 18 yard shot was wide left of Hartman�s goal 3 minutes into the 2nd overtime period. Cancela had another chance but his shot was cleared two minutes from time by Ugo Ihemelu.

LA Galaxy, 2005 MLS Champions (MSN/Fox Sports)

LA Galaxy, 2005 MLS Champions (MSN/Fox Sports)

It would have been interesting to hear what was going through Steve Sampson�s head as the final seconds ticked away. Largely blamed for the US� 32nd place finish at the 1998 World Cup and still disliked by former players like John Harkes, his appointment in place of Sigi Schmid during the 2004 season when the Galaxy owned the best record in the league was controversial to say the least and made him and Galaxy management frequent targets for Galaxy fans and soccer pundits across the nation. But after taking the 4th seeded Galaxy and beating arch rivals (oh and MLS� best team in the regular season) San Jose in the first round and beating the top seed in the East on the way to the domestic double I would imagine he�d love to tell some people to back off.

In the end, players like Marshall and Ihemelu can claim to have played a big role in the Galaxy�s redemption. Cobi Jones can bask in the limelight once more on the way to the US Soccer Hall of Fame. Pando Ramirez has chased away his demons.

And the LA can proclaim itself the capital of American soccer for 2005.