COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sunday, October 21, 2001) - A sudden-death overtime goal from San Jose forward Dwayne DeRosario gave the San Jose Earthquakes the first Major League Soccer championship in team history as they defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-1, in MLS Cup 2001 on Sunday afternoon at Columbus Crew Stadium. The 2-1 come-from-behind win was the first time the Earthquakes had come from behind in a match all season, having previously gone 0-8-2 in matches in which they allowed the first goal (including the postseason).
It was the second time in MLS Cup history that the title game needed an overtime session to decide the winner. D.C. United won the inaugural MLS championship in 1996 with a sudden-death goal from defender Eddie Pope at Foxboro Stadium.
The goal was scored by DeRosario in the sixth minute of overtime (96th minute). With the overtime proceeding at a cautious pace with neither team overcommitting in attack due to the high stakes, the game-winning goal came off a brilliant individual effort from the Canadian international and first-year player in MLS.
DeRosario, who entered the match with five minutes remaining in regulation, coming on for starting forward Ronald Cerritos, controlled the ball at the left corner of the Galaxy box. With Los Angeles defender Danny Califf facing him, DeRosario sidestepped his opponent and converged toward the center of the box, curling a right-footed shot from the top of the box which hit the far right post and entered the net, beating outstretched Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
The game got off to a nervous start with the Earthquakes owning the better of the possession with every San Jose player involved in the attacking buildup. Head coach Frank Yallop's team was able to penetrate on the flanks and efficiently send crosses into the Galaxy penalty area, forcing Hartman and the rest of the Los Angeles defense to scramble for clearances.
However, despite the prolonged periods of possession the Earthquakes could combine for nothing quick enough to catch Los Angeles' back line off guard as the Galaxy constantly had a chance to recover. The Galaxy were better with their quick transition and in the 14th minute forward Cobi Jones exploited the open space down the right flank. Jones' cross was deflected by an Earthquakes defender to forward Sasha Victorine whose attempt to lay it cleanly to teammate Mauricio Cienfuegos was foiled by a San Jose clearance.
On another quick transition seven minutes later, a 40-yard long ball by Galaxy defender Greg Vanney bypassed a flat-footed San Jose defense and Luis Hernandez read the pass perfectly, latching onto it just inside the penalty area. The Mexican international beat MLS Defender of the Year Jeff Agoos to the ball and sent a searing right-footed shot past San Jose goalkeeper Joe Cannon. It was the third career MLS Cup Playoff goal for Hernandez, who had been suffering from a hip flexor injury.
As the Earthquakes continued to experience difficulty in finding spaces near the Galaxy's area, bottled up by an organized opponent, Los Angeles nearly struck for a second goal in the 35th minute when a shot by Jones from left edge of the Earthquakes' 18-yard-box was saved by Cannon near the left post.
Needing a quick strike to tie the match, the Earthquakes got it two minutes before halftime. In the 43rd minute a combination between Richard Mulrooney and Ian Russell down the right flank, the sideline which San Jose exploited often, resulted in a cross from the end line by the speedy Russell which bypassed four players in the box. Forward Landon Donovan is the quickest to react on the loose ball, blasting a first-time, right-footed shot into the top right corner of the net that Hartman had no chance to snag. It was Donovan's fifth career postseason goal in his first season in MLS.
Buoyed by the goal just before halftime, the Earthquakes continued to apply pressure to start the second half. Hartman, the Galaxy goalkeeper, was forced into a number of saves. The former UCLA standout parried a deflection by his own defender in the 46th minute, a Ronnie Ekelund line drive one minute later and a 48th minute deflection of a Jeff Agoos free kick which nearly beat him to the left post.
The Galaxy's Ezra Hendrickson came close to scoring in the 51st minute with a left-footed shot which just missed Cannon's crossbar but it was still the Earthquakes who were consistently dangerous on the other end of the field, amassing a number of corner kicks in the process.
Quakes forward Ronald Cerritos headed down a Mulrooney corner kick down to Donovan, who at edge of the six-yard box and with his back to goal, stopped the ball with his chest and spun around only to watch his effort barely miss the right post. The quick finishing skills of San Jose were again prominent when Cerritos used a spinning move to fire a shot which again finished wide of the right post just moments later.
The best scoring chances for the remainder of regulation came within a minute's span in the 71st minute when Quakes defender Troy Dayak saw his close range header go high of the bar while the Galaxy's Elliott missed the target with one of the his trademark blasts from outside the box. The second half proceeded with cautious fouls interrupting play on either end and another four yellow cards being issued by referee Kevin Stott through the end of regulation.
The Earthquakes had defeated the Galaxy twice during the regular season although Los Angeles won the Western Division by a two-point margin. The teams' final two head-to-head matches of the season were canceled due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America.
The season does not end for the Galaxy, however, as they go on to face the New England Revolution in the final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup which will be staged at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, California next Saturday, Oct. 27.