|DC United 3||LA Galaxy 2|
|Did You Know?|
|Eduardo Hurtado is the second leading goal scorer in Ecuadorean national team history with 26 goals in 74 appearances.|
#45. Splash Time (1996)
It was the first goal in MLS Cup history, and LA Galaxy forward Eduardo Hurtado made sure it was memorable.
After just five minutes had transpired in a rain-drenched MLS Cup ’96, the Ecuadorean international gave the LA Galaxy a 1-0 lead, heading home a Mauricio Cienfuegos cross over D.C. United defender Clint Peay.
And while many remember the celebration by D.C. United defender Eddie Pope which ended the match in overtime and involved a headfirst slide on the waterlogged Foxboro Stadium pitch, Pope was merely copying Hurtado. “El Tanque” made his belly slide near the right corner flag 90 minutes before.
“The goals bring out the kid in you,” 1996 Galaxy midfielder Chris Armas said. “Like kids would jump in a puddle if they see it, that’s what Eduardo felt after scoring that goal. In that kind of weather, there was nothing left for him to do.”
“It was a moment of pure elation and he let it all out,” remembered then Galaxy defender Greg Vanney, currently an assistant coach at Chivas USA. “Water went everywhere. The week had been wet and miserable, but having scored that goal, I felt we were maybe on our way to winning that championship. Everyone kind of let loose and took off on a flyer.”
Vanney was among those who joined the early celebration, sprinting from his left back position to join his teammates on the opposite corner of the field.
“When I got up I was saying, ‘Why did I just do that?’” Vanney said. “Now I have to play the rest of the half soaking wet and freezing cold."
Hurtado had made a massive impact during that season for the Galaxy, scoring a team-high 21 goals, good for third best in the league.
“His English wasn’t great, but you could tell he was a great teammate,” Armas said. “He was a big presence and naturally one of the strongest players I played with or against. But he was like a big teddy bear in our group and he smiled more than anyone on the team.”
Added Vanney, “That celebration was pretty true to who he was as a guy, to let loose and make like a big kid. He was a fun-loving guy but on the field he was an animal and beast. Nobody liked scoring as much as Hurtado, especially in big moments. We knew that if Eduardo got off on the right foot in a game and got a goal, he would be tough to handle the rest of the game. That’s how he was.”
However, Hurtado wouldn’t score again. It was Armas who came through to double the Galaxy’s lead in the 54th minute.
“When we got up one goal and then got the second goal, I thought we could finish this game off and we’re going to be the first champs in this league,” Vanney said. “But we didn’t finish the game off.”
D.C. United went on to score three unanswered, including Pope’s memorable overtime game-winner.
Pope would not only snatch the MLS Cup from the Galaxy’s grasp, but he also stole the title of best all-time MLS Cup celebration from Hurtado in the process.