Through Their Eyes: 2002 MLS Cup Final (part 3 of 3)

Galaxy greats and fans discuss their roles & emotions in LA’s first MLS Cup championship (pt 3)

wall of legends induction

Photo Credit: 
German Alegria/LA Galaxy

On Saturday, the Galaxy honored the 2002 MLS Cup champions by inducting them into the club’s Wall of Legends at The Home Depot Center. But before the induction, LAGalaxy.com spoke to those that were at the MLS Cup Final about their role in the Galaxy’s first MLS Cup title.

(Part 3 of 3. Read Part 1 here. Read part 2 here.)

THE REDEMPTION

With the victory, the LA Galaxy had added their first MLS Cup trophy and finally etched their name among the champions of MLS.

Cobi Jones (Galaxy captain): “It was pure relief; we finally did it, we won. No one could take that away from us and we’d marked ourselves in MLS’ history. Part of what we developed at the Galaxy was a culture of winning, we’d won a bunch of different trophies, but we hadn’t reached the pinnacle yet for us in MLS. That was something that was hanging over us and to finally get that, it was a great relief and sign of what we had accomplished as a team and as a group in that 2002 season. We continued to push despite those let downs in the past.”

Linda Pickle (Galaxy Fan): “We had lost so many times before so when Fishy scored that goal, we just thought ‘Oh my God’ and we were crying and literally bawling our eyes off. You looked around and everyone was crying, especially all the Galaxians because we had been through the losses before. There wasn’t a dry eye among any of the Galaxy fans.”

Alexi Lalas (defender): “I just thought, ‘thank God, I’ll never have to worry about this again.’ Its cliché, but it’s true that every professional athlete wants that moment that you grow up watching, holding a trophy and kissing it then having that iconic moment where someone takes a picture that lasts forever.  At that point, I had done a lot in soccer, but to win a championship and the first one for the Galaxy meant a tremendous amount.”

Kevin Hartman (goalkeeper): “To be part of the first Galaxy team to ever win MLS Cup that is just something that I’ll always be proud of…everyone asks me what my favorite memory from MLS is, it’s the 2002 MLS Cup winning side.”

Joe Tutino (Radio announcer): “Rick Davis (Tutino’s broadcast partner) couldn’t help but laugh as I lost my mind on the call and the players had a bit of fun with it in the locker room as Doug Hamilton played it for everyone to hear.”

THE AFTERMATH

Following LA’s first MLS Cup win, the honors would continue to pile up for the Galaxy. Just three years later in 2005, LA completed the “Double” by winning both MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup spearheaded by young forward Landon Donovan. After that victory, the club’s profile grew, adding players like David Beckham and Robbie Keane before LA earned their third MLS Cup trophy in 2011. However, even though the trophies have piled in since, many believe that the culture took off with the 2002 victory.

Joe Tutino: “In all seriousness, what that Galaxy team did was mend a lot of broken hearts from past failures in the final. To me, it set the first benchmark going forward for this organization.”

Cobi Jones: “It did a lot for the Galaxy. We had a bunch of different trophies, we had a reputation but it was about establishing the reputation that said, ‘we can win as well. ’ Not just a reputation of playing well and being a good club and organization, but it was about being winners too. That set the tone for this club and the expectations of this club were huge.”

Alexi Lalas: “The 2002 guys will be honored on Saturday, but the reality is that the establishment of a level of success was long before them. Whether it was Dan Calichman and Robin Fraser or a Greg Vanney, there were a lot of players who had been there before but hadn’t for whatever reason won the championship. It doesn’t mean that they weren’t, establishing this high expectation when it came to the Galaxy. To have that trophy to point to is important, that’s the money shot and the one that everyone remembers, but it was important in the evolution of the Galaxy. The “SuperClub” concept of the Galaxy started a long time ago, in that the Galaxy always wanted and always set out to be the best. To be not only champions, but to be the team that people looked to and if you don’t have the trophies and you don’t have those wins then it’s a little bit empty. While there were certainly some good times and bad times after that, the truth is that you gotta start somewhere and that was certainly an important touchstone to have with regards with what it meant to the Galaxy as an organization going forward.”

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com