COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 21 -- When Major League Soccer's championship game reached its sixth minute of sudden-death overtime today, San Jose's Dwayne DeRosario knew his moment had arrived. He had entered in the dying minutes of regulation and had been fully briefed about his highly specialized assignment.
Upon entering, his coaches, Frank Yallop and assistant Dominic Kinnear, had told him, " 'Go out and win it for us. Do what you do best,' " DeRosario said. "I had a one-on-one opportunity and I did what I do best."
San Jose's Dwayne DeRosario, left, boots the game-winning goal past Los Angeles defender Danny Califf in the 96th minute to give the Earthquakes a 2-1 win over the Galaxy in the MLS Cup in October.
(Matt Sullivan - Reuters)
And with one powerful swing of his right leg, DeRosario lifted the Earthquakes to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy to complete a worst-to-first finish for the struggling franchise. San Jose had the worst record among 12 teams last year and hadn't qualified for the postseason since 1996. But with former D.C. United assistant Yallop in charge and 19-year-old forward Landon Donovan leading the way, the Earthquakes upset Columbus and Miami in the playoffs before outplaying the favored Galaxy.
DeRosario -- a reserve forward from Canada in his first MLS season after playing for the minor league Richmond Kickers -- collected Ronnie Ekelund's superb long ball and took on defender Danny Califf before ripping a 17-yard shot that tipped goalkeeper Kevin Hartman's fingers and caromed off the inside of the right post.
"Dwayne is such an impact player that he has to get onto the field at some point," said Yallop, a fellow Canadian. "Whenever Dwayne comes on the field, if he's starting the game or he's playing five minutes, 10 minutes or 20-25, he has an instant impact on the match. . . . It was fitting for him to get the winning goal because he has had a rough time the last few weeks where he has not really been a part of the starting lineup. It's hard for him."
DeRosario, 23, scored five goals in 21 regular season appearances (11 starts), but on a club loaded with quality attacking players, received only 54 minutes in the previous six postseason games. His goal handed the Galaxy its third championship game defeat in the league's six-year history, joining losses to United in 1996 and '99. The loss five years ago also came in overtime, on Eddie Pope's 94th minute header at Foxboro Stadium.
"Everybody loves to beat L.A.," Coach Sigi Schmid said in reference to the pro-San Jose crowd here. "It's a national pastime in every sport. . . . Obviously, this one hurts -- overtime always hurts a little bit more."
The Galaxy had gone ahead midway through the opening half when defender Greg Vanney floated a long ball over Jeff Agoos to unobstructed Luis Hernandez, who thumped a 12-yard shot over goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
The absence of all-star midfielder Manny Lagos (hamstring injury) seemed to affect San Jose in the early going. But the Earthquakes began to pressure Los Angeles and finally broke through in the 43rd minute on a sensational goal by Donovan. Richard Mulrooney's cross came from the right and skipped into the center of the penalty area, where Donovan lashed a one-timer from 14 yards into the upper right corner for his league-best fifth playoff goal.
San Jose controlled the second half, but Jeff Agoos's free kick hit the left post and several other opportunities narrowly missed the target. For Agoos, it was his fourth championship after winning three with United. "This is just so sweet because we worked so hard for this," he said. "It was a major overhaul. To go from one of the worst teams in the league to the best is just incredible."
MLS Note: Attendance was announced as 21,626, but there were a few thousand no-shows at Columbus Crew Stadium, which holds about 22,500.