D.C. United has captured its fourth Major League Soccer championship, with a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Wizards.
United allowed the Wizards an early goal, before scoring three times in a seven-minute span of the first half to move in front for good. American Alecko Eskandarian scored twice in the 19th and 23rd minutes, the fastest goals in MLS Cup history. He was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Kansas City pulled within 3-2 on a penalty kick by American Josh Wolff in the 58th minute. The Wizards were awarded the kick, when United midfielder Dema Kovalenko used his hand to knock a shot over the bar, while protecting the goal line. The Ukrainian was ejected, the first player sent off in the nine-year history of the MLS Cup. Despite being down a man, United held off the Wizards the rest of the way.
D.C United Captain Ryan Nelson of New Zealand says the win came from the way his team responded to setbacks. "It turned when they scored, and we came back and scored three fantastic goals. We had a sending off [red card ejection], and, again, it showed the character of the team. We came back from one-nil (1-0) down, and we came back from red with 10 men, and stuck it out until the end," he said.
It was United's fifth appearance in Major League Soccer's championship game, but the first since a 2-0 victory over Los Angeles in 1999. The only loss in those five trips was a 2-0 defeat by Chicago in 1998. Peter Nowak of Poland, United's rookie coach, assisted on both the Fire's goals, and was the MVP of that title game six years ago.
San Jose is the only team besides United to win multiple championships. The Earthquakes beat Chicago 4-2 last year, and Los Angeles 1-0 in extra time in 2001. Washington also won the first two MLS Cups in 1996 and 1997.