On Saturday, the LA Galaxy will go for their fourth MLS Cup title as they face the Houston Dynamo in MLS Cup 2012.
In another edition of “Through their eyes”, we look at a team who traveled a similar journey to this year’s Galaxy team, the 2005 MLS Cup winners.
The winning goal came in the 107th minute when a James Riley clearance led to a Galaxy corner kick. Donovan’s cross was fisted away by New England goalkeeper Matt Reis, but fell perfectly to Ramirez, 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 into the back of the net, giving LA the game-winning goal.
JONES: “It set up perfect, that’s just one of those situations because it’s not expected and for him to basically volley that one from distance and past Reis into the net was absolutely amazing. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s the truth, if you had given Pando that shot a hundred times, he probably would have missed it as we saw throughout the season. But it’s all about timing; life is all about timing and being at the right place at the right time. He made the most of the situation at hand when he needed to and I think it capped off a horrible season for Pando in a bright moment and a good way.”
DUNIVANT: “It was an awesome year because we won the double with the Open Cup as well. Winning the Open Cup was a good thing to propel us forward and we were used to winning championships and it mattered come playoff time.”
THE WRONG CELEBRATION?
During that extra time period, the Galaxy had gotten wind of a little foible by MLS that provided some added motivation for the club.
SAMPSON: “We had gotten word during overtime that MLS had set up plastic protecting the New England lockers. When we caught word of this that was almost an added motivation for us. That was enough motivation to once again prove everyone wrong. When we went into locker room after the game, the MLS staff were just putting the plastic up and moving the champagne from one locker room to the other. We gained a lot of enjoyment out of the fact that no one expected us to win and they had already prepared the locker room for New England.”
The victory was the second MLS Cup title for the Galaxy and a fitting end to a wild season, but life would force soccer to take a backseat several months later. On a flight home from Costa Rica following LA’s CONCACAF Champions Cup defeat to Saprissa, Doug Hamilton would pass away at the age of 43 due to a heart attack. For the players that played on that 2005 team, the championship was a perfect send-off to the longtime Galaxy GM.
JONES: “It was a great release and it was a special moment. Pando gets a lot of the glory, but for the team, after everything we had gone through especially in season. I think that everything we had gone on in that season and ending up with that championship, with the passing of Doug, it’s something that players who had that relationship over the years can feel joy in that we gave him that last championship.”
DONOVAN: “The legacy of that team will be that we were average, at best, for most of the year but there were some special players on that team. I think we all knew that we were better than we showed during the regular season and then we proceeded to put together our four best games of the season during the playoffs and that won us the championship.”
VAGENAS: “When I first came into the league, success seemed so easy we seemed to be playing in final after final and when you get successful early, you think it’s always going to be like that. Now looking back, I’m turning 35 soon and I’m thinking that might be my last MLS Cup Final so it adds something to it. For me personally, I feel fulfillment because it was not an easy year, it was very hard and something that I’ll always be proud of. It was a special unique group of players and that core group of players still keeps in contact today so that leaves something to be said.”
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN 2005 AND 2012?
Both teams had their ups and downs through the start of the season, yet both battled through to reach MLS Cup. But are there similarities between the two teams?
DUNIVANT: “I don’t think so, I think that every team is different, it was two different years, I think we started off this year and kind of gained momentum, but in 2005, we started off well and did the other way. I think that they’re different teams, but I hope they’re not different results.”
JONES: “They made a similar run into the playoffs as far as the team, I think something that is similar is that there are talented players and veteran players on each squad that know when to turn it on. You see that especially with this team now, the talent coming to the forefront, you see the Beckham, Donovan, Keane, Juninho, there are a lot of veterans that know when to turn it on and they’ve done an amazing job to get through the playoffs. Similar to that team before, we had the veterans like myself, Vagenas, Donovan, who could turn it on and be ready for the one-off games.”
SAMPSON: “There are a lot of parallels; it was a matter of veteran players bringing their ‘A game’ when they had to, much like this year with Landon, Beckham, and Keane, every player showed up when they had to.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com