Top 50 MLS Cup Moments: #29 Bomb Drop
|D.C. United 3||Kansas City 2|
Zotinca (OG) 26'
|Did You Know?|
|Jose Burciaga, Jr., who bypassed college to sign an MLS contract in 2001, is a legend of the Dallas Texans youth soccer club. According to the club's site, his jersey is hanging in the rafters of the team's clubhouse and he has a parking spot named after him.|
#29. Bomb Drop (2004)
Jose Burciaga Jr. could rip it.
For seven seasons at Kansas City – and then another in Colorado – he would constantly venture up the flank from his left back spot, load up on his left foot, and just let it fly.
“He can crush a ball,” said former Kansas City teammate Jimmy Conrad, who retired earlier this year. “He can crush it, and even if it skips a few times, you know it’s going in.”
In 132 games played in MLS, Burciaga "crushed it" 14 times. But not many of his blasts were more impressive, and certainly none came on a bigger stage, than his golazo in the 2004 MLS Cup against D.C. United at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Kansas City had reached the MLS Cup four years earlier, beating the Chicago Fire 1-0 with an 11th minute goal from "Danish Dynamite" Miklos Molnar. Burciaga made sure to give KC another strong start in the ’04 edition, striking five minutes earlier.
The game clock had just struck the sixth minute when Burciaga trapped a D.C. clearance with his chest near midfield, opened up a run towards the left, and before anybody could close him down, just smacked the air out of the ball from 30 yards out.
“The ball bounced back to him, and he took his first touch,” recalled Peter Nowak, then manager of D.C. United. “Everybody was moving out of the box, and the one who was standing in front of [D.C. ‘keeper] Nick Rimando was Ryan Nelsen.
“Ryan normally would block that shot, but Burciaga did very well and Ryan was late with his reaction. … Nick saw it at the last minute, and he was a couple seconds too late.”
The ball rocketed towards the far post and took a nasty dip just out of Rimando’s reach, nestling itself into the back of the net.
“That was the first goal scored on me in MLS Cup, so I took it pretty hard,” recalled Rimando, now manning the nets for Real Salt Lake. “Ryan Nelsen was right there and it went by him, and that’s why I reacted a bit slow to it. If I’d seen it, I would’ve probably reacted a little earlier. But [Burciaga] hit it well and I reacted slow and it cost us a goal. It was kind of a shock.”
For Kansas City, it was the perfect start to the final.
“That’s the way you draw it up — you want that early strike,” said legendary manager Bob Gansler, a former US national team coach who led KC to an MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield and US Open Cup from 1999-2006. “We encouraged [Burciaga] to do that. He was an extremely accurate passer and a great long-range shooter, but there’s always an element of good fortune that has to be part of 35-yard ventures.”
Burciaga fervently celebrated his goal. But his enthusiasm – and Rimando’s shock – would be short-lived.
“The feeling among us on the bench, though, was sort of like, ‘It’s 1-0, so what? Let’s see what happens after 90 minutes,’” Nowak said.
D.C. stormed back like a bat out of hell and in seven first-half minutes turned the match upside down for Kansas City. The Red-and-Black, behind Alecko Eskandarian and an own-goal from KC defender Alex Zotinca, went up 3-1 by the 26th minute on their way to a 3-2 triumph.
“I can still taste it in my mouth when I think about it,” Burciaga told MLSsoccer.com this past March. “If certain things go different ways, we could have won it. But that’s the way the game is, and that day wasn’t our day. The 2004 team was one of the best teams I’ve been a part of.”
The goal at MLS Cup 2004 against D.C. would be Burciaga’s first and only playoff tally of his MLS career.
“I joke with him that he scored too early,” said Conrad. “We were used to scoring in the last 10 or 15 minutes of the game that year and winning 1-0, but we ended up with a lead we had to defend for 84 minutes. And you saw how that worked out.”