Thursday, September 29, 2005
Tonight, Chris and I joined our friends the Stochl's for the first half and the LA Riot Squad in the second for the LA Galaxy's 1-0 victory to win the 2005 US Open Cup Final. Hooorraay for us!
Around the world, professional soccer leagues usually contest two prizes - the league championship, and a national cup, which is awarded to the winner of a season long tournament which is played along side the league schedule.
In England, winning the national FA cup can be as big a deal, if not bigger on a sentimental level, than winning the league. The FA cup final is contested on the weekend after the end of the league in the national stadium, and it is perhaps the biggest day of the year for the game. Our cup final was contested on a weekday evening in a stadium which was only allowed to sell 10,000 tickets because of parking conflicts with the university on whose campus the stadium sits. And I suspect that the Galaxy gave away many (most?) of the tickets to assure that we'd at least get to 10,000. Oh, well, so we have a ways to go.
The match itself was satisfying mainly for its result. Neither team has been playing all that well of late, although the Galaxy did show some flashes tonight. But the goal was an absolute "cracker" as they say in England, or a golazo as we say in these parts. It began right in front of us, and when I say right in front of us, I mean right in front of us with the nearest players no more than thirty feet from our seats. The play began with Galaxy defender Chris Albright winning a ball in the corner and then carrying the ball along the goal line until he sent a smart cross just outside the far edge of the six yard box. The pass was met by forward Herculez Gomez (on the left in the photo above) who struck the ball on the full volley (i.e. striking the ball while it is still in the air with a kind of sideways scissors motion) and buried the ball in the back of the net. It was a truly beautiful goal, and it proved to be the decisive moment of the match.
The Riot Squad was well represented tonight with over 120 in attendance, and many of the players, especially Kevin Hartman, Cobi Jones, and Herculez, who is special favorite of the LARS, came over to honor us. Even Galaxy and US star Landon Donovan came over to us, which is a big step for him. We really gave him the business when he played for the rival team in San Jose, and Donovan has been slow to warm to us, perhaps tonight was something of a breakthrough.
So, for one moment in an otherwise dreary season - the light shines through, and our team are now champions. It was great to be there and in the smallest of ways, great to be a part of it.