Top 50 MLS Cup Moments: #19 Heart and Soul
|San Jose 4||Chicago 2|
Roner (OG) 54'
|Did You Know?|
|Jeff Agoos' 134 senior US national team caps include two trips to the World Cup in 1998 and 2002. In 1994, however, he was the last player cut from the US World Cup roster. Upon hearing the news, "Goose" threw his jersey into the fireplace and burned it.|
#19. Heart and Soul (2003)
Despite how good they were in 2003, it seemed like the odds were stacked against Jeff Agoos and the San Jose Earthquakes time and again.
With injuries and call-ups catching up to them, they went winless over the last five games of the regular season, watching their Supporters’ Shield hopes go up in smoke and their once-insurmountable lead atop the West shrink.
They found themselves down four goals on aggregate to the hated Galaxy in the first round of the playoffs before staging a comeback for the ages, scoring five times in the second leg to advance in golden-goal overtime. They went down early again a week later, needing to rally on Kansas City in the Western Conference final and advancing again off a golden goal.
So by the time the Quakes finally emerged victorious over the Chicago Fire at MLS Cup 2003 — their second title in three years — it wasn’t so much a burgeoning dynasty reclaiming its crown: It was a relief.
Somewhat lost in the shuffle was that the game marked a record fifth MLS Cup title for Agoos. And that suits the former US international just fine.
“It was certainly something that stood out, but I tried not to make it too big of a deal,” recalls the 43-year-old retired defender, who now serves as Major League Soccer’s technical director of competition.
And that’s typical "Goose." Because in reality, it was a big deal. The man was an MLS original with serious gravitas, decorated with countless trophies as part of D.C. United’s early dynasty, and a stalwart at the international level whose 134 caps still stand as third all-time in US national team history.
His acquisition by San Jose in 2001 was one of the primary reasons the Quakes became a force of nature, especially after a miserable finish the prior year. Agoos instantly was a captain, a respected leader, a rock on the back line and a field marshal.
He never wanted the glory. He just wanted success, and he hadn’t an ounce of quit in him. And his teammates picked up the cues from the first time he donned a San Jose shirt.
“It was never about the individual for him,” says Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop, “and all the guys said and would say it now, that he was a big part of why we were good.”
In typical Agoos fashion, you won’t find his name on the score sheet or the recaps from MLS Cup 2003. The day belonged to the big stars on the team, the flashy names like Landon Donovan, Ronnie Ekelund and the brick wall in net, Pat Onstad.
But there’s little question in anyone’s mind that Agoos was one of the main reasons the Quakes even made it that far. It’s no surprise that at the mention of trophy No. 5, he immediately defers to his team’s accomplishments.
“Every one of those rings, you don’t win by yourself,” Agoos says, “and I felt that this one especially – with what we went through in 2003, just the adversity ... having to come back so many times that year – that this was a real team award.”
When another player finally matched Agoos’ mark seven years later, it was only fitting that it was one of his former teammates from that ’03 championship squad.
“It’s an honor to be up there with Jeff,” said Brian Mullan shortly after winning MLS Cup 2010 with the Colorado Rapids. “I played with him a couple of years, and he’s a great player and a great professional. I couldn’t be happier to have my name tossed in the boat with him.”