2002 Season in Review
Final Record 16-9-3, 51 pts. (First, Western Conference)
All-Access Podcast: 2002 MLS Cup
The LA Galaxy captured its first MLS Cup Championship in 2002, defeating the New England Revolution, 1-0, on October 20 at Gillette Stadium. MLS Honda MVP Carlos Ruiz scored the game-winning goal in the 113th minute, with assists from Tyrone Marshall and Chris Albright. The club finished their seventh MLS season with a league leading 16-9-3 record and 51 points, claiming the Western Conference Championship and Supporters Shield. A slow start to the season (5-5-2) saw the Galaxy play six straight overtime games from March 23 to May 4 and suffer the club’s worst loss in history (5-0) to the MetroStars on June 15. However, Head Coach Sigi Schmid changed the club’s formation and refocused the defense, guiding the team to an 11-4-1 record for the balance of the season. The Galaxy also became the first team to win three consecutive games during the 2002 season and even went on to close out the season with four straight victories. At the Rose Bowl, Los Angeles finished the season with the second best home record 11-1-2 (.857) in MLS. On the road, the Galaxy finished tied for the fifth best record in MLS at 5-8-1 (.469). The Galaxy finished first in Western Conference play with an 8-5-3 record and in second place overall in conference play among all MLS teams. In non-conference play, Los Angeles finished second with a 8-4-0 record among Western Conference clubs, as well as second for the best non-conference record among all MLS teams. Los Angeles ranked second in the league in attendance for 2002, averaging 19,047 (up 10% from 2001) for a total of 289,663 fans at the Rose Bowl.
RE-LIVE MLS CUP 2002
- Through Their Eyes: 2002 MLS Cup Final (part 1)
- Through Their Eyes: 2002 MLS Cup Final (part 2)
- Through Their Eyes: 2002 MLS Cup Final (part 3)
- Joe Tutino looks back at the 2002 MLS Cup Champion Galaxy
“EL PESCADITO” MAKES BIG SPLASH IN MLS POND: A 2002 Discovery Player, Carlos “El Pecadito” Ruiz joined the Galaxy from CSD Municipal in February and made huge waves in MLS by scoring 24 goals and one assist for 49 points. Ruiz’s 24 goals on the season ranked fourth alltime in MLS behind Roy Lassiter (TB: 1996—27 goals), Stern John (CLB: 1998—26 goals) and Mamadou Diallo (TB: 2000—26 goals). The striker also set a new league record for game-winning goals with nine strikes on the season. In addition, Ruiz was a two-time MLS’ Player of the Month for April (4- 0=8 pts.) and July (6-0=12 pts.) and a three-time MLS Player of the Week (3/18, 4/1 and 8/26). Ruiz also ranked second in points-per-game (PPG) with a 1.86 PPG average. He registered seven multi-goal performances in 2002, including his first MLS hat trick on August 31 vs. the MetroStars.
APRIL (1-1-2, 5 pts; Overall 2-1-2, 8 pts. - 3rd in West):
Unfortunately, the Galaxy's theme of overtime match would continue throughout the month. With four overtime matches, LA defeated Chicago 2-1 on 4/7, tied Dallas twice 1-1 on 4/13 and 4/20, and suffered its first loss of the season to Colorado, 1-0, on 4/27. The Guatemalan international extended his scoring streak to five games with four goals and remained the only Galaxy player to find the back of the net. The 5-9, 170-pound Ruiz was named MLS' Player of the Month for April (4-0=8 pts.) and Player of the Week (2-0=4 pts.) for 4/1-4/7
MAY (2-2-0, 6 pts.; Overall 4-3-2, 14 pts. - 3rd in West) :
At the start of a five-game road streak, the Galaxy went 2-2-0 during the month. In its sixth consecutive overtime match, the Galaxy defeated the Wizards (2-1) with goals from Brian Mullan ('12) and Gavin Glinton ('93) on 5/4 at Arrowhead. Mullan's strike marked the first by a Galaxy player other than Ruiz. However, "The Little Fish" would find the net again scoring against Chicago (5/11) in a 1-0 shutout win and then in a 2-1 loss to Kansas City (5/18). The club finished with another loss, its second in a row, to New England (3-2) on 5/25.
JUNE: (2-3-0, 6 pts.; Overall 6-6-2, 20 pts. - 4th in West):
Completing a club record five-game road trek, the Galaxy lost its third game in a row to Colorado, 3-2, at INVESCO Field on 6/1. On 6/8 vs. Chicago, defender Alexi Lalas scored his first goal of the season, powering a Simon Elliott cornerkick into the goal ('57). June 15, 2002 will always be a black day for the Galaxy as it marks the club's worst defeat in history (5-0) to the MetroStars and pulled the Galaxy's record back to .500 (5-5-2) on the season. The loss would serve as watershed point in the season and see major changes in the starters and the club's formation would change from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2. The team responded in the its next match at the Rose Bowl vs. Dallas (6/22) with a 3-0 win, including goals from Sasha Victorine ('58), Lalas ('69) and Mullan ('81). Finishing the month at D.C. United (6/29), LA lost in overtime, 1-0.
JULY (3-1-1, 10 pts.; Overall 9-7-3, 30 pts. - 3rd in West):
The Galaxy started to build its momentum in July, winning four games overall including a U.S. Open Cup victory. In front of 55,234 at the Rose Bowl, Ruiz scored two goals to lead the Galaxy past the Earthquakes on 7/4, but the club fell in San Jose three days later on a goal by Landon Donovan. At Colorado (7/13), Ezra Hendrickson's goal ('69) proved to be the game-winning in a 3-1 win over the Rapids. The only tie came against the Wizards on 7/20, with goals from Ruiz ('31) and Hendrickson ('56). Ruiz scored two goals in the 9th and 75th minutes to beat the Crew on 7/27 at the Rose Bowl. Ruiz earned his second MLS Player of the Month honor with six goals in July.
AUGUST (4-2-0, 12 pts.; Overall 13-9-3, 42 pts. - 2nd in West):
Picking up speed, the Galaxy kicked off the August by knocking the San Jose Earthquakes out the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals for the second year, 1-0, in overtime at San Jose. Returning to MLS action, Jones scored two goals against the Revolution (8/10) for a 2-1 victory. In the club's first Wednesday match of the year, LA lost at Columbus, 3-2, on 8/14. Returning to the Rose Bowl, the Galaxy crushed the Rapids, 4-0 with goals from Lalas ('20), Victorine ('82) and Cienfuegos ('59 and '87). The Galaxy grabbed its second consecutive win, defeating the Wizards, 2-1, on strikes from Ruiz ('31) and Lalas ('82). LA suffered its second loss of the month at Dallas (8/24), falling 1-0 in overtime. Looking for a little redemption against the MetroStars, the Galaxy's Ruiz scored his first career hat-trick in MLS hitting in the 4th, 23rd and 83rd minutes.
SEPTEMBER (3-0-0, 9 pts.; Overall 16-9-3, 51 pts. - 1st in West):
Its best month of the season, LA became the first team to win three in a row and the only team in 2002 to win four in a row. With its eighth straight U.S. Open Cup, the Galaxy defeated the Burn, 4-1 at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium on 9/7. The Galaxy finished the sweeping its final two games by shutting out the Earthquakes, 1-0 on 9/14 and 9/21. Ruiz tallied both game-winning goals to set a new league record for game-winners in a season. Ruiz earned his third MLS Player of the Week award (3-0=6 pts) for 8/26-9/1. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman also earned MLS Player of The Week honors with his first selection of the season for 9/16-9/22 with nine saves, including a penalty stop.