2002 IN REVIEW: October 20: Galaxy sheds stigma of failure

The Los Angeles Galaxy won its first MLS final after three runner-up finishes when it beat New England, 1-0, in overtime before an MLS Cup-record crowd of 61,316 at Gillette Stadium.

Since the inaugural MLS season in 1996, the Los Angeles Galaxy had worn the stigma of failure.

The Galaxy lost the first MLS Cup, fell again in 1999 and was beaten in 2001. It won the FC Champions Cup and U.S. Open Cup in 2001 and four West regular-season titles in the first six years of MLS.

But in the postseason L.A. stood for Losers Again.

The team that had twice lost finals at Foxboro Stadium finally broke through just a few yards away at Gillette Stadium.

''Now we know we can win a cup if we play for each other, because when we play as individuals, we win nothing,'' said midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos, who had been with the team since Day 1.

Carlos Ruiz, whose goal in the 113th minute ended the scoreless deadlock and the Galaxy's tradition of choking, said, ''Nothing compares to the feeling of winning with the entire team. It's all about titles and winning, not individual awards.''

The MLS title was the first for Coach Sigi Schmid, who had been on the losing side in 1999 and 2001, and the second for operator-investor Phil Anschutz following a win with the Fire in 1998.

by Soccer America Editors

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