2005 Season in Review
Final Regular Season Record 13-13-6, 45 pts. (Fourth, Western Conference)
2005 MLS Cup Champions
A LOOK BACK AT THE SEASON: The 2005 campaign can best be described as a season of ebbs and flows for the Galaxy, but with an impressive finish that saw the club win the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup championships. By season’s end, the team had finished exactly where it started – at .500 with a 13-13-6 record – including a stellar record of 10-3-3 at The Home Depot Center, third-best in MLS and an 11-8-1 record against Western Conference foes. Los Angeles led the League in attendance for the sixth time, welcoming 387,256 fans to The Home Depot Center for an average of 24,204 per game. In the offseason, Head Coach Steve Sampson and General Manager Doug Hamilton took charge of re-tooling the roster. The Galaxy acquired international reinforcements in Pablo Chinchilla (Costa Rica), Ednaldo da Conceicao (Brazil), Paulo Nagamura (Brazil), Guillermo “El Pando” Ramirez (Guatemala), Michael Umaña (Costa Rica), in addition to Americans Steve Cronin, Todd Dunivant and Herculez Gomez. However, the biggest move was signing of U.S. National Team star Landon Donovan, preceded by the departure of Carlos Ruiz. In all, only 11 of the 28 players from the 2004 playoff roster remained as the team entered the 2005 playoffs. A fast start, with only two losses through the first two months of the season (6-2-1) gave way to some difficult losses in June (1-3-2) and July (1-2-2). But it was during that time that the roster was ravaged by call-ups to national teams participating in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying to 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany. The arrival of August provided yet another challenge, when the team entered the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Entering the prestigious knockout tournament in the fourth round, they defeated inter-city rivals Chivas USA 5-2, the San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 at Spartan Stadium, and the Minnesota Thunder 5-2, setting up the Galaxy’s first ever Cup Final of any sort at The Home Depot Center. In the Open Cup Final, the Galaxy defeated FC Dallas 1-0 with a goal from Gomez, his sixth of the tournament.
MLS CUP CHAMPIONSHIP: In the playoffs, Los Angeles captured the club’s second MLS Cup title with an unexpected run through the playoffs. The Galaxy opened by defeating the top seeded San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 at home and then earned a 1-1 draw on the road to advance 4-2 on aggregate. In the Western Conference Championship, the Galaxy beat the Colorado Rapids 2-0 with two strikes from Donovan to earn a fifth trip to the MLS Cup. At the MLS Cup final, the unlikely hero was Guatemalan international Guillermo “El Pando” Ramirez, whose overtime volley propelled the Galaxy to their second championship in club history.
SAMPSON, HAMILTON REMAKE ROSTER: Every coach likes to bring in players suited to his system, and Head Coach Steve Sampson is no different. After taking over in August 2004, Sampson didn’t have much time to mold his roster during the season. But after the Galaxy’s 2004 campaign, which ended in a Western Conference Championship loss to Kansas City, Sampson and General Manager Doug Hamilton took charge of re-tooling the roster. Andreas Herzog retired in November, but after the new year, the heavy movement began. On draft day, January 12, the Galaxy traded Alejandro Moreno, Chris Aloisi and the 6th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft to San Jose for Todd Dunivant, Steve Cronin and the 5th pick, and then sent Sasha Victorine to Kansas City for the 15th pick. On February 18, the Galaxy brought in Michael Umaña from Club Sport Herediano in Costa Rica, who Sampson had observed as coach of the Costa Rica National Team. Five days later, management made another splash in Central America, acquiring Guatemala National Team captain Guillermo “El Pando” Ramirez on loan from CSD Municipal. In late March, the Galaxy brought in a trio of players—midfielder Paulo Nagamura, a Brazilian from Arsenal’s reserve system and former Sao Paulo player; forward Ednaldo da Conceicao, another Brazilian, from FC St. Gallen in Switzerland; and another Tico, Liga Deportiva Alajuense defender Pablo Chinchilla. Those signings set off a number of moves the following day. Ben Benditson, Mamba Chisoni and Herculez Gomez were signed to developmental contracts, Danny Califf was traded to San Jose in exchange for an allocation, and the Galaxy acquired a portion of an allocation and youth international spot from FC Dallas in exchange for the allocation that had previously been acquired from Chivas USA. Still, the big moves were really yet to begin. On March 30, the Galaxy sent Carlos Ruiz to FC Dallas for an allocation. The next day, two days before the season opener, that allocation was used to sign Landon Donovan. In all, only 11 of the 28 players from the 2004 playoff roster remained as the team entered the 2005 playoffs.
OPEN CUP CHAMPIONS: Fueled by contributions from several players, the Galaxy won the 2005 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, one of the longest-running club cup competitions in the world, dating back to 1914. Entering the prestigious knockout tournament in the fourth round, they defeated inter-city rivals Chivas USA by a 5-2 score on August 3 in a game played in the Track & Field Stadium at The Home Depot Center when five different players hit home. Herculez Gomez scored the eventual game-winner just before halftime, then Landon Donovan and Chris Albright put the game away after the break, while Cobi Jones and Joseph Ngwenya also found the back of the net. In the quarterfinals, the Green and Gold drew a tough away match at their rival San Jose Earthquakes at Spartan Stadium on August 24. Again Gomez came out on top as his two first-half markers gave the visitors all the firepower they needed in an impressive 2-0 victory. In the semifinals, they faced an upstart Minnesota Thunder side (USL – Division I) that had defeated them in the 2004 Open Cup. However, the underdogs would not have similar luck this time around as they would fall to the Galaxy at The Home Depot Center on September 14 by a score of 5-2. Gomez continued his Open Cup scoring streak by adding two to lead the way. Donovan added a goal of his own, but this time Tyrone Marshall and Joseph Ngwenya joined in on the fun. This victory led to the Galaxy’s first ever Cup Final of any sort at The Home Depot Center, when LA welcomed MLS Western Conference foe FC Dallas on September 28. In a very physical match, the Galaxy muscled a 1-0 victory over the Hoops to claim their second U.S. Open Cup title in club history. In the 25th minute Albright worked the ball deep into Dallas territory, where he found Gomez alone in the middle of the penalty box. Gomez buried the ball with a left-footed scissor kick, after a well-placed chip pass from Albright. Gomez’s game winner was his sixth of the tournament and tied him as the tournament’s leading goal scorer.