|San Jose 4||Chicago 2|
Roner (OG) 54'
|Did You Know?|
|Ronnie Ekelund played for FC Barcelona in Spain and in the English Premier League.|
#50. The Danish Gangster (2003)
“So when you score tomorrow, what are you going to do for a celebration?” a 12-year-old San Jose Earthquakes fan asked midfielder Ronnie Ekelund the night before MLS Cup 2003.
The Danish midfielder, who had celebrated goals overseas with an arms-outstretched theater bow, felt compelled to give the kid an answer, even merely to amuse him.
“He was suggesting I do the Robbie Keane flip celebration,” Ekelund told MLSsoccer.com. “But eventually we came up with the Danish Gangster and the crossed arms.”
So even if scoring never came easy for Ekelund – he totaled only 11 goals in four seasons with the Earthquakes, including five penalty kicks – at least he had the post-goal ritual down. Now all he needed was a chance to score.
When the referee whistled for a free kick just five minutes into MLS Cup 2003 against the Chicago Fire, it was going to be the left-footed Jeff Agoos or the right-footed Ekelund taking the attempt at the Fire’s goal.
“I was standing over the ball with Jeff and I felt pretty confident,” Ekelund said. “I’m pretty sure I said to him, ‘I got this one.’ I had my mind set on the type of shot I wanted to shoot. I felt very good and very confident and success with that type of free kick before.”
Ekelund would proceed to smash it past Fire netminder Zach Thornton on the goalkeeper side of the wall for what remains the only goal scored directly off a free kick in MLS Cup history.
“With the position of the free kick maybe he was expecting something over the wall,” Ekelund thinks. “It went along the side of the wall - on the goalkeeper side - and I hit it with some good pace.”
That fifth-minute goal set the early tone for the Earthquakes’ match and allowed Ekelund to show off his “gangster” style to the world. His celebration even involved heading over to celebrate with the 12-year-old, who was in the stands.
Although he would leave the club a year later, the 39-year-old Ekelund has remained in his adoptive home town of Los Gatos, Calif., where for the last six years he has served as President and CEO of the Hooter Hider business he calls Bébé Au Lait (bebeaulait.com). The company, which he formed with his wife, sells an array of baby products with distribution in 1,000 boutique spots, Babies R’ US, ByeBye Baby and Nordstroms.
The maternity industry sure is a long way away from the soccer field for the Danish Gangster.