Recently, an outfit called Kick Classics put the first MLS Cup up on YouTube; to be fair, I thought it was a copyright violation at first. However, it seems to be legitimate and got posted on D.C. United's official website, so I figured why not view yet. When this game first aired, I was 11 years old and wouldn't attend my first D.C. United game for another four years. So, I figured, what better way to watch this game against the L.A. Galaxy for the first time than to share a live blog with all of you!
What struck me about this game is the pure skill of the best United players. Any team in MLS right now would be improved by Marco Etcheverry or Jaime Moreno in their prime. Etcheverry puts on a clinic, especially in the last 30 minutes of the game. He is by and away the best player on the field, and its not really close. Anyone who didn't have the pleasure of seeing him in his prime should at least watch those last 30 minutes.
But enough rambling: how does this match play out?
These are the lineups, as best as I can figure; please forgive any positional errors (updated from Chest's 16 year old spreadsheet). For the L.A. Galaxy:
Pregame thoughts: I'm really enjoying the lighthouse logo for MLS Cup 96, as well as the exploding clash of the club logos. And while I kind of enjoy the teal shirts that the refs are wearing, the Galaxy jerseys are HORRENDOUS. The were only used for this inaugural season, and you can really tell why.
0: The crowd, despite the rain, are very loud. It also seems that the mics are very close to some United fans.
1: For this game, the clock counts down from 45 for each half, and there is no added time; it makes it hard for me to tell you the correct minute that I'm in.
2: Mark Simpson's penalty area is almost completely soaked; we'll see what affect that has on him throughout the game.
3: Jaime Moreno nutmegs the Galaxy defense, but his run is for naught. Nutmeg is a bizarre phrase, but a delicious spice.
5: And that's all it takes; there is a throw-in from the Galaxy and bad tackles all over United's defense. The ball gets played out to the left wing, crossed in and Hurtado's head finds the ball, over Clint Peay, and powers it past Mark Simpson for the goal. Poor defending by United all around in the buildup and the goal. 1-0 Galaxy.
6: The Galaxy are playing some nice possession soccer.
7: First corner for United, taken by John Harkes. Whips it in low and it is easily headed out.
8: Etcheverry whacks a cross well over the bar. While I am not enjoying their play, I am enjoying the old United uniforms; I like the D.C. flag look.
10: Jaime Moreno makes a great run and plays in a beautiful cross into Richie Williams, who clanks the shot wide from the top of the 6. It was called offside regardless, but that call was blatantly wrong.
11: Phil Schoen is one of the announcers for this game, along with Ty Keough.
12: The Galaxy have still had the bulk of possession, and have looked the better team so far. Moreno has looked good when he's had the ball, and Etcheverry has had moments, but the rest of United have been fairly anonymous so far.
14: Moreno gets a nice ball from Etcheverry off of a Simpson punt down, wheels and takes a shot from the top of the 18, but its blocked before it reaches the goal.
16: Etcheverry taken down in the box! It looked close, but no penalty is given. On the replay, its a decent tackle, but it also highlights the wonderful feet of Etcheverry.
17: Eddie Pope gives the ball away in the middle of the field, but shuts down his man to make up for it. Also, Cobi Jones' hair is even more ridiculous than you remember.
21: United getting their first sustained pressure of the night, with a cross by Harkes deflected at the top of the 6, with Moreno and Diaz Arce ready to pounce had it not been blocked.
23: Moreno wins a free kick from about 40 yards out, with Etcheverry over it. Takes it short, and Agoos cracks it into the box, but no one is able to get onto the threatening ball.
25: After a poor first 20 minutes, United has started to settle in, with the game playing much more evenly.
27: For those of you who remember Jaime Moreno only from his last few years with United, watch this game. His skill on the ball and his pace have let him blow by defenders so far.
29: The ball just died in a lake in the middle of the field.
30: Someone just yelled "Take the damn shot!"
32: According to Phil Schoen, the ref doesn't have the clock on his wrist; its on the scoreboard for everyone to see and there is no added time.
35: Cobi Jones just found another lake, leading to a turnover.
36: Eddie Pope and Jeff Agoos have been solid since the goal, making their fullbacks somewhat anonymous.
39: Etcheverry gets a yellow card right outside the box, and Cobi Jones smashes it at Mark Simpson at 45 miles per hour (thanks, Pepsi Power Shot!)
41: Hurtado shoulder checks Eddie Pope to the floor, and gets a yellow for his efforts.
44: At halftime Alexi Lalas will apparently give us the "1st half hilites;" oh 90s, never change.
45: The half ends with the LA Galaxy up 1-0. First half thoughts: After a pretty poor first 20 minutes, United has made the game much more even. Still, they haven't generated any real goal scoring chances, outside of Richie Williams' shank/offsides attempt. Etcheverry and Moreno have been the best offensive players for United in the first half, with Agoos and Pope playing solidly in defense. The rest of D.C. United's midfield needs to get involved and get Moreno and Diaz Arce the ball.
46: And we're off! Harkes gets taken down and United take a short free kick.
47: Jeff Agoos slips and misses the ball after it was punched out by Jorge Campos from a Marco Etcheverry free kick.
48: Harkes plays in a lovely cross towards Diaz Arce, which is barely intercepted by Jorge Ramos. On the counterattack, the Galaxy get Simpson out away from his goal, but Clint Peay is able to clear it.
49: The countdown clock is even worse in the second half; I have no idea what minute it is. (I was told there would be no math)
51: Simpson comes out of the box to barely clear the ball; the Galaxy have had the majority of the possession at the beginning of this half, much like the first.
53: Clint Peay and his mustache take out Karapetyan, drawing a yellow card.
55: And Chris Armas puts in a second! LA Galaxy lead 2-0, and United have a tough row to hoe to get back into this game. Off of a throw in, Hurtado gets taken down but Armas collects it, plays the advantage, splits Agoos and Maessner, and puts in the goal.
58: United have had more energy since the second goal, but it hasn't yet resulted in anything.
59: Clint Peay almost catches Campos out! A long ball in from Peay is punched away at the last second by Jorge Campos. Also during the break, Tony Sanneh comes in for John Maessner, making him the game's first sub.
61: BOB BRADLEY HAIR SIGHTING.
63: United's crosses have floated on them all game. True to form, Sanneh floats a cross harmlessly over the box.
65: Galaxy have had the majority of the counter attacks so far this game, running another that threatens but ultimately does nothing.
69: About 20 minutes left in the game, and United has not have a clean chance so far this game. John Harkes apparently hit a deer. Shawn Medved comes in for Mario Gori.
71: Moreno sets up Diaz Arce, but he chips it well over the bar. Diaz Arce was free in the middle of the 18, but could not connect.
72: Moreno is chopped down and a yellow card is shown. Etcheverry takes the free kick and Tony Sanneh heads it home for a D.C. UNITED GOAAAAAAAL! Sanneh was unmarked and puts home an easy header.
75: United is hounding the Galaxy all over the field now, and Ante Razov comes in for Karapetyan.
77: Another D.C. United head coach sighting, with Curt Onalfo entering the game for one of his 34 MLS caps. In retrospect, any Curt Onalfo appearence means instant defeat for the team that employs him.
78: Off a corner kick, Mark Simpson comes too far out and misses the punch, leaving a wide open net. The cross bar is United's friend, and they are able to survive to fight another day.
79: Simpson nutmegs a Galaxy player in his own box. That could have been a disaster.
82: Moreno steals the ball off of the foot of of a Galaxy defender, toys with two more of them, and is pulled down by Armas for a foul. The Etcheverry free kick is cleared right to Medved, who hits it straight into Campos' arms, but it squirts out and Medved finishes for another D.C. UNITED GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL.
84: GOAL CALLED BACK! Etcheverry dribbles down the end line, beating four Galaxy defenders, crosss it to Diaz Arce who clanks it but Etcheverry buries the rebound. He is called for being offside, but he also seems to have committed a very Thierry Henry type of handball. The offsides call seems to be questionable, but the overall judgement seems correct.
85: Etcheverry is putting on a clinic, running down and winning the ball off of Armas, and earning a corner as well. Campos has to punch away his corner, and after a bit of a scrum the ball goes out for a goal kick.
87: Diaz Arce gets free and shoots from the top of the 18, but the ball goes high and wide.
90: And that's the end of regular time! There will be two 15 minute periods of sudden death overtime, with a penalty shootout coming after that.
92: Razov is free in Simpson's box, but is called offside. It wouldn't have mattered as he misses his shot as well.
93: United comes right back, with a chance in front of Campos' net. Simpson clears it back down field, and Moreno runs it down at the end line. He wins a corner kick.
94: AND D.C. UNITED WINS THE FIRST MLS CUP! Eddie Pope heads in the ball from the top of the 6 off of another Marco Etcheverry corner! Etcheverry dominated this game and is rightly named the MVP. While the Galaxy may have been better than United with players 1 through 10, Etcheverry was better than any other player on the field.
Kevin Payne, Bruce Arena, and John Harkes take the first MLS Cup trophy (an ugly gold soccer ball with wings) and United, the underdog in this game, win their first MLS Cup. This game came from youtube.com/kick, who also have the 2004 Eastern Conference finals between D.C. United and the New England Revolution. In the build up to this season, perhaps I will "live" blog that game as well.
What are your favorite memories of the inaugural MLS Cup?