We wouldn’t be worth our salt around here if we didn’t take the prime opportunity of Throwback Thursday to talk about MLS Cup. But wait! I’m not talking about this weekend’s showdown between the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo. Come on, it’s Throwback Thursday! I’m talking about the very first, dramatic, crazy, insane MLS Cup back in 1996. Get ready for the awesomeness.
You’d probably wouldn’t be surprised if I told you the very first MLS Cup was between the LA Galaxy and D.C. United. It was a time of soccer excitement in America on the heels of the 1994 World Cup. The game was even broadcasted on ABC! Bill McDermott’s mustache was crazy and the graphics were even more so. The game went down on a rainy, late October night in front of almost 35,000 fans in Foxborough, Mass.
It was a gross night. The field was water logged. The rain wouldn’t let up. DC United had white kits and the Galaxy’s were kinda atrocious. Bruce Arena was actually coaching for United! And the match was touted as a huge face off between Cobi Jones (and his dreadlocks) and Captain America John Harkes.
For the better part of the match, it was the L.A. Galaxy who were proving to be steadfast. After only five minutes into the final – FIVE! – the west coasters found themselves on the board thanks to a goal notched by forward Eduardo Hurtado. DC United felt their hopes at nabbing the first ever MLS Cup diminish even more when Chris Armas scored for the Galaxy after the start of the second half.
But 2-0 in the 56th minute doesn’t mean you’re out of the race yet. And DC United weren’t ready to back down. In a crazy miracle, the Black and Red army came storming back.
The first goal to put DC back in it came from Tony Sanneh in the 73rd minute. Late in the match, but that’s still just under 20 minutes. In the 81st minute, second-half substitute Shawn Medved grabbed an unassisted goal, tying up the match and effectively sending the two teams into over time.
That night, it would be Eddie Pope – on an assist from Marco Etcheverry – who would be the hero at Foxborough. In the 94th minute of overtime, he grabbed a goal and sealed the deal for DC United. The first MLS Cup trophy would find its first home in the nation’s capital, where it stayed until 1998.
Amid the downpour, DC fans celebrated. It was pretty epic. Got a few hours to kill? Watch KickTV’s youtube video of the ENTIRE MLS Cup 1996 match. If you don’t have that much time to watch some old school soccer – and old school graphics – skip to the hour mark to see Armas’ goal because it was some great footwork; then to 1:16:00 mark, where you can almost here Alexi Lalas in the back of your mind say “Set pieces, set pieces, set pieces” as Sanneh gets DC’s first goal off a free kick; then to 1:28:00 mark as DC tied it up, which wasn’t pretty, but was great all the same and then of course to 1:41 :00 for Eddie Pope’s header and his slide in the mud.