MLS Cup Top 50: #36 Jones-Franchino (2002)

Top 50 MLS Cup Moments: #36 The Clothesline

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Joey Franchino appeared in three MLS Cup finals for the Revolution and received a caution card in each of them all before the 25th minute.
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#36. The Clothesline (2002)

Having reached their fourth MLS Cup final with the best record in MLS, the LA Galaxy were the odds-on favorites at MLS Cup 2002.

Their opponents, the New England Revolution, were the Cinderella team of that postseason. They only made the playoffs after a magical run, winning six of their last nine matches to close out the regular season. And the Revolution’s home venue of Gillette Stadium happened to be the host of that MLS Cup.

So the fact that “The Clothesline” came so early in the match should come as little surprise.

Galaxy star Cobi Jones had rounded Revolution defender Joey Franchino in the 25th minute but his run was halted abruptly by Franchino’s right arm, which caught Jones wrestling-style near the neck.

“It was vicious and did catch me by surprise, but it didn’t hurt that much,” Jones told “I’ve had worse happen in training sessions. It probably looked worse than it really was. It was more the surprise factor.”

“Franchino was our enforcer and he laid the lumber on people,” said ex-Revolution defender and current team broadcaster Jay Heaps. “Getting in the mix early showed us we can compete with these guys. They maybe had been better and were more experienced, but we fought them well.”

Franchino received a yellow card on the play. He went on to play every single minute of that final, including 23 minutes of extra time.

“I’m a realist and I knew right off the bat what it was all about — he was going to do his best to stop me,” Jones said. “What it means is that I beat him and he had to foul me. I was winning the situation because I put him on notice. It actually allowed me a little more freedom during that match because he was playing with a yellow.”

What will come as a surprise to many is that Jones and Franchino were and still are best of friends. Jones says he mentored Franchino when he was drafted by the Galaxy in 1998.

But in that championship game on Oct. 20, 2002, the two engaged in a head-to-head match-up: Franchino was the Revolution’s left back and Jones was the right winger for the Galaxy. They were also wearing the captain’s armband for their respective teams.

“Yeah, we were friends, but it’s all about who’s going to win that matchup and who’s going to win this game,” Jones said. “It was a great battle from the beginning.”

“The only person I’ve ever come close to fighting was with Joey Franchino,” said ex-Galaxy midfielder Peter Vagenas, currently a midfielder with the Vancouver Whitecaps. “He was just an all-around great guy but he has a tough-guy image on the field. When he plays, he’s nails and when you end up on the other side, it’s going to happen.”

Jones and Franchino exchanged jerseys following the match.

“After the game the first person I went up to was Joey and I said, ‘Congrats on the season,’” Jones recalled. “Unfortunately, someone had to win. We shook hands and he did apologize for it. He said, ‘Sorry, but it’s the game.’ I understand that. Once the last whistle blows we can move on and he’s one of my best soccer friends.”

“Cobi understands what Joey is all about,” Vagenas said. “But it’s almost comical when you look back on it.”

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