Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dramatic finish

It's still rather fresh in my mind, perhaps too fresh, but Wednesday's game has to rank up there in terms of best games I've ever watched in person. I want to get away a little before I start to rank it because you tend to make more of it because it just happened and you remember all the details but still, off the top of my head I remember watching Turkey-Senegal in the '02 World Cup and kind of having the same stunned feeling after the match.

Regardless of where it ranks in LB's Top 10 Games, the match was an absolute thrilling and pulsating affair. I don't think I can accurately sum up just how dramatic the match was. It was a final and the match definitely carried that across. You could feel the energy and the finality of it throughout the match.

Perhaps because of how it was scored or maybe because of the significance of the match but the Galaxy seemed desperate to score right from the start of the second half. It wasn't the throw-everyone-forward desperation, but from the opening whistle of the second half the team played with a sort of determined desperation. Joe Cannon kept the Galaxy in the game with some absolute great saves, including a late one off Rafael Marquez Lugo that could have made the ending less dramatic.

Stoppage time came and Chris Klein's heroics followed. Earlier in the match, I was telling Andrea that I used to think Klein was a very solid player but that his form had fallen off badly. He'd really done little in the first 91-plus minutes against Pachuca (he had one cross that was particularly atrocious) but Klein rose to the occasion in more ways than one. You don't see a successful bicycle kick every match, let alone in a final, let alone in stoppage time of a final with the home team down a goal, but that's what we got on Thursday.

Once the second-half whistle sounded, the stadium was buzzing and Pachuca's players and fans looked dejected. All throughout the extra time, I had a feeling that the Galaxy would win it. The match almost begged for the Galaxy to take it as Pachuca looked hard-pressed to find their rhythm in extra time.

But no team scored and off to PKs it was. After four rounds it was even 3-3 when Marvin Cabrera rattled one off the woodwork. Landon Donovan stepped up and I thought about his two-PK performance against the Fire on July 4 and his PKs during the Gold Cup and figured it was money in the bank. Instead, Miguel Calero somehow dived and knocked his shot away. Carlos Rodriguez followed with a goal and Abel Xavier pushed his shot wide.

Pachuca was left with glory while the Galaxy was left with heartache.


Mark in NRH said...

The 2nd half was one of the most exciting 45+ minutes of soccer I've ever seen. I actually squeeled like a little girl when Klein (are you kidding!?!) bicycled it in. Had LAG ended up winning that would have gone down as the MLS goal of the year. Instead it will forever be just a sidenote.

I haven't seen that level of determination from LAG in some while. Donovan played very well and was unlucky to not put two in the back of the net (talking regulation here).

Man of the Match: easy. Cannon. I haven't seen a performance like that since Kasey Keller's legendary performance against Brazil.

Mark in NRH said...

Interesting fact:

Pachuca's run through the Superliga never produced a victory over a MLS side in regulation (and overtime if applicable).

* Loss 2-1 vs LAG (part I)
* 1-1 vs FC Dallas (late equilizer on a controversial no-call hand ball)
* 1-1 (4-3 PK) vs Houston (only goal was after Houston down 1 man)
* 1-1 (4-3 PK) vs LAG (part II) (only goal was AutoGol)

Yeah, this loss is easier to take if I can rationalize it away as dumb luck.

East River said...

Again Pachuca finds a way to win. Its not pretty but it doesn't have to be. 4 trophies in less then a year wow. I cringed that they took out Cacho and Gimenez(sp?) again before regulation just like they did against Houston. But in the end they either win some how or they allow the other side to figure out how to lose.

I a said a week ago how the Gals always seem to perform well in a tournament last night serves as more evidence to that theory. They are a strange lot up one game down the next. Aweful play in last night's 1st half then they played out of their mind in the 2nd half. If they could only finish!