Top Galaxy Playoff Moments: #3 Surprise heroes give Galaxy 2005 MLS Cup title

“Pando” Ramirez’s extra time goal, Ihemelu’s clearance help LA win 2005 MLS Cup

There was an air of destiny about the 2005 LA Galaxy.

The underdog club that snuck into the postseason had won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, defeated the Supporters’ Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference semifinals and advanced to MLS Cup by dominating the Colorado Rapids on the road.

In the 2005 MLS Cup Final at the glistening new Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, the Galaxy met Eastern Conference powerhouse New England Revolution in a rematch of the 2002 MLS Cup Final –more on that one a bit later—that saw LA win their first title. New England entered the Cup Final on a tear, slicing through the East with MLS MVP forward Taylor Twellman, midfielder Steve Ralston, goalkeeper Matt Reis, Rookie of the Year Michael Parkhurst, and a young firebrand from Texas named Clint Dempsey.

The Galaxy started the match on the front foot, pressing the vaunted Revolution defense, and creating numerous scoring chances. LA thought they pushed ahead in the sixth minute when Herculez Gomez’s shot sailed into the back of the net, but was ruled offside by the officiating crew.  LA would not let up the pressure, nearly scoring numerous times, including a 70-yard-run and shot by Landon Donovan that was touched over the bar by Reis.

But in the second half, the Revolution took control.

Dempsey, Twellman and defender—and future Revolution head coach—Jay Heaps each had opportunities, but New England were unable to break through.  However, with the momentum on New England’s side, Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson opted to make a change. 

With the Galaxy struggling midway through the second half, Sampson inserted Guatemalan midfielder Guillermo “Pando” Ramirez into the lineup for Ned Grabavoy in the 66th minute of play. Although “Pando”, who was on loan from Guatemalan giants CSD Municipal had scored just one goal all season—a penalty kick—he would etch his name in Galaxy lore by the end of the night.

The play began in the 107th minute when a James Riley clearance led to a Galaxy corner kick. Donovan’s cross was fisted away by Reis, but fell perfectly to the Guatemalan, on the edge of the 18-yard-box. As the ball arched down off Reis’ fist, Ramirez stepped up and launched a right-footed volley that sailed into the back of the net past Reis, sending the Galaxy into jubilation.

The job wasn’t over yet as the Revs pushed ahead, desperately trying to take the match to penalty kicks. In the closing moments, Heaps found Dempsey alone in the box, but as the Galaxy defenders swarmed the Revs attacker, he played the ball off to Uruguayan midfielder José Cancela. The Uruguayan launched a shot towards an open goal, but rookie defender Ugo Ihemelu jumped in front of the ball, getting just enough of a touch to force it wide.

Moments later, the whistle blew and LA had earned their second MLS Cup title. Ramirez’s goal completed a banner first decade for the LA Galaxy, who earned two MLS Cup titles from five appearances in the final, two U.S. Open Cups, and one CONCACAF Champions Cup title.

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