Soccer: MLS Playoff: San Jose at Miami (Game Three)
Absolutely amazing, historic! I sensed history and decided to watch this game at a pub -- the Britannia Arms in San Jose -- and boy I am glad I did. The atmosphere was incredible: the place was packed to standing-room only. One person joked there were more people there than at a typical Earthquakes game! Once the game got going, there were constant cheers, jeers, and other vocal expressions in support of the Quakes and in mockery of the Fusion. It was great. The longer the game went without either team taking a lead, the higher the tension mounted.
Zero-zero at the half, it continued that way in the second half. San Jose definitely dominated play, controlling the ball and having the most chances, but they couldn't quite break down Miami's defense. Miami was bunkered most of the game, defending desperately, but they did manage a few breakaways -- and San Jose's goalkeeper extraordinaire Joe Cannon came up huge, making several game-saving blocks.
Finally, the game went into sudden death overtime. The hundreds gathered at the Brit watched with bated breath and sweaty palms. I dreaded the thought that a fluke goal by the outplayed Fusion would end the Quake's season. Then the Quakes earned a corner kick (one of nine in the game) and Mulrooney put the ball in play. In the center of the box, Jimmy Conrad headed it high and away from the goal. The Miami keeper had stepped out a bit on the cross, and now he dived frantically back to the goal. But Troy "The Beast" Dayak -- winner of the ACE Comeback of the Year award for his best season ever after two years off due to a horrible neck injury -- leapt up and headed the ball into the goal! It was a golden goal of fantastic consequences. Suddenly, San Jose, the worst team in Major League Soccer last season, is going to the championship this Sunday!
To get there they beat the best team in MLS, the Miami Fusion, as well as the Columbus Crew. Incredible!
What I REALLY like are these stats from the four semifinalists (cumulative of all the playoffs).
| ||Goals Scored ||Goals Against|
| ||Chicago ||7 ||5|
| ||Miami ||5 ||10|
| ||Los Angeles ||9 ||9|
| ||San Jose ||12 ||2|
Note that San Jose did this in five games, while all the other teams played six! They face this L.A. Galaxy this Sunday (9:30 a.m. Pacific on ABC) and it should be an awesome game. Both teams hate each other, have aggressive playing styles, and want to win their first championship.