Earthquakes win MLS Cup 2003


The San Jose Earthquakes won their second MLS Cup Championship in three seasons with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Fire at The Home Depot Center six years ago today. MLS Cup MVP Landon Donovan became the first player in league history to score two goals in the final as the Earthquakes exploded for a record four goals in the championship match.

The Quakes got out to an early 1-0 lead in the fifth minute on a spectacular free kick by midfielder Ronnie Ekelund. The free kick was awarded after Richard Mulrooney and Jamil Walker worked a give-and-go at the top of the 18-yard box to free up Walker. Walker was fouled from behind just outside the area. After a fake shot by Jeff Agoos, Ekelund drove a right-footed shot to the upper right corner past Fire goalkeeper Zach Thornton. The goal tied an MLS Cup record for the fastest goal from the start of the game, equaling Eduardo Hurtado's strike for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 1996.

Eddie Robinson made a big defensive play in the 11th minute after DaMarcus Beasley got free on the left side. Beasley broke into the box and served a low cross for Ante Razov at the back post, but Robinson stuck his leg out to deflect the cross.

Pat Onstad was forced to make back-to-back saves in the 33rd minute to keep the Fire off the board and maintain the Quakes lead. First, Damani Ralph broke behind the Quakes defense and fired a low shot that Onstad smothered. Moments later Ralph got free again on the left side and blasted a shot that the 2003 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year blocked and knocked out of bounds.

Donovan put the Quakes up by two goals in the 38th minute after a brilliant through ball from Walker. Walker received the ball at midfield and spun on Jim Curtin. After creating space for himself, Walker slipped a ball through for Donovan, who maneuvered around Thornton and finished into the empty net for a 2-0 advantage.

Beasley brought the Fire within one goal in the 49th minute with a goal at the near post. He received a pass inside the penalty box from Andy Williams and finished a shot just inside the post past Onstad.

The Quakes responded immediately as Richard Mulrooney scored just seconds later. Mulrooney ran onto a long pass from Brian Mullan along the right wing. After moving into the penalty area, the Quakes midfielder slotted the ball past Thornton to the far post for a 3-1 lead.

Chicago closed the gap again in the 54th minute with a goal that deflected into the net off Quakes defender Chris Ronér. Evan Whitfield sent a cross into the box from the right side into the middle of the San Jose six-yard box, where Ronér and Ralph jumped to reach it. The ball sailed past Ralph but bounced off Ronér's head and past Onstad to make the score 3-2.

Onstad made a miraculous save in the 56th minute on a Razov penalty kick that kept the Quakes in the lead. Ronér fouled Ralph in the box to give the Fire the penalty. Razov stepped up to the spot and drove a low shot to the corner, but Onstad dove to his right to corral the ball and keep San Jose in the lead.

Donovan extended the Quakes lead to two goals in the 71st minute off a great cross from second half substitute Dwayne De Rosario. De Rosario received the ball on the right wing from Brian Mullan and then sent a low cross to the near post, where Donovan snuck past his defender and finished past Thornton.

With a 4-2 lead, the Quakes continued to defend the Fire's final desperate attempts to even the match, finally ending the game with the victory and setting off a raucous celebration amongst the numerous San Jose fans in attendance.


On winning championship:
"It was an emotional game for our team after everything that we went through this year. Nobody believed that we could win it this year. I am very happy for the guys in that locker room. They are a great bunch of players."

On the game:
"What a final. You couldn't ask for a better game. We got a little pummeled in the first half, but we went into the locker room 2-0 up. We knew that we would get chances and we put them away today. I think that we came out well in the second half and played a strong game."


On the penalty kick save:
"I thought on the first goal I got caught near post. It was a shot I could stop. I got caught leaning and I was disappointed. On the PK I thought I could make the save. I felt I had a good chance of stopping it and I did."


On the game:
"It was a tough first half for us. We got outplayed, but we ended up being up 2-0 at halftime, so something had to be going for us today."

On the heart of team: "I wouldn't trade anyone in our locker room for anyone in the league. They play with more heart than any team in the league and that is why we are successful."

Major League Soccer
San Jose Earthquakes 4, Chicago Fire 2
Carson, Calif.; The Home Depot Center; Attendance: 27,000 (sellout)

San Jose Earthquakes:
GK Pat Onstad, D Craig Waibel (Chris Ronér, 51st) D Troy Dayak, D Eddie Robinson, D Jeff Agoos, M Brian Mullan, M Richard Mulrooney, M Ronnie Ekelund, M Manny Lagos (Ian Russell, 70th), Landon Donovan, F Jamil Walker (Dwayne De Rosario, 60).

Chicago Fire: GK Zach Thornton, D Evan Whitfield, D Jim Curtin (Nate Jaqua, 81st) D Carlos Bocanegra, D Orlando Perez (Kelly Gray, 45th), M Andy Williams (Justin Mapp, 70th), M Jesse Marsch, M Chris Armas, M DaMarcus Beasley, F Damani Ralph, F Ante Razov.

Scoring Summary
Ronnie Ekelund (Unassisted), SJ, 5th; Landon Donovan (Jamil Walker), SJ, 38th; DaMarcus Beasley (Andy Williams), CHI, 49th; Richard Mulrooney (Brian Mullan), SJ, 50th; Own Goal (Chris Ronér), CHI, 54th; Landon Donovan (Dwayne De Rosario, Brina Mullan), SJ, 71st.

Craig Waibel (Yellow), SJ, 15th; Eddie Robinson (Yellow), SJ, 54th.

Shots on goal
Corner Kicks