MLS Cup Moments

Top 50 MLS Cup Moments: #48 Risky Business

MLS cup Top 50: #48 Daouda Kante (2002)

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LA Galaxy 1 Revolution 0
Ruiz 113'  
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D.C. United made Daouda Kante the 11th overall pick of the 2002 SuperDraft but he never played a league match for the club before being waived.
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#48. Risky Business (2002)

There was no margin of error for defender New England Revolution central defender Daouda Kante.

With MLS MVP Carlos Ruiz sprinting on goal in the 80th minute of a scoreless MLS Cup final in 2002, Kante had significant ground to make up.

“[Goalkeeper] Adin Brown came out and I was behind Carlos Ruiz so I couldn’t catch him,” Kante recounted to MLSsoccer.com last week. “If I touch him, it’s going to be a PK or red card and if I let him go, he’ll score.”

Kante opted for a lunge at the ball, hoping to win it cleanly.

“He was going to hit the ball and I came out of nowhere to tackle the ball out. It was a great moment for me,” Kante said. “I poked the ball with my toe and the ball went for a corner but the referee gave a goal kick.”

The Mali native, who was a youthful 24 year old at MLS Cup 2002 and only playing in his 14th professional soccer match, remembers the hug and ‘atta boy’ from Brown after Kante saved his team from a surefire goal. The way the match had played out to that point, a goal by Ruiz could very well have won the game.

“It was one of those moments I have to make a split decision and that decision was to poke the ball,” Kante said.

Originally drafted by D.C. United, Kante failed to break through in the nation’s capital but received a second chance with New England. He came on strong late in that 2002 season to become a surprise starter for the surging Revolution, who went on a magical run to make the playoffs and host the championship game in front of 61,000 strong at Gillette Stadium.

“I remember in my second [regular season] game for the Revolution against Chicago, I scored a goal on a header off a Steve Ralston corner and from there it changed the whole season for us,” Kante said.

Today Kante is a technical director and executive director for Kansas Rush youth soccer club in Olathe, Kansas, where he’s held the position for the last four years. He also previously spent two years as a part-time youth academy coach for Sporting Kansas City.

In addition to the coaching, he also manages the Daouda Kante Soccer Foundation (www.kante4mali.org) with the mission of giving back to his native Mali. In an effort to promote intercultural exchange, Kante will take an Under-18 girls team from the Kansas Rush to Mali for humanitarian work and some soccer.

“People in this country are very fortunate to have what they have, and they will get to see less fortunate people and how they’re living while still being happy,” Kante said.

Meanwhile, the bond formed among the Revolution players during that MLS Cup run in 2002 still remains strong. Kante often speaks to Portland Timbers goalkeeper Adin Brown and ex-defender Joey Franchino, who coaches in Rhode Island.

But Kante admits that the ’02 final still haunts him. Although he foiled Ruiz on that 80th minute scoring opportunity, the Revs were unable to stop Ruiz in the 113th, when a golden goal by “El Pescadito” decided the match.

“I’ve got my kids now and I wish I had that [MLS Cup] ring to show to them when they ask me whether I can play,” Kante says. “But it [MLS Cup ‘02] was a great moment and I still remember it. It’s going to stay with me forever.”