Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 March 2004 - Yes, It's Redundant To Say "The" La Manga Cup

On 5 March 2004, the MetroStars became the first MLS side to win silverware outside the US, defeating Norwegian club Viking 1-0 in the Manga Cup Final.

Held at La Manga Club resort in Murcia, Spain, the Manga Cup started in 1999 as a winter tournament for clubs in summer leagues, primarily from the Scandanavian countries of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Teams from Austria, Russia, and the Ukraine were included in subsequent years. US clubs first participated in 2003, when the San Jose Earthquakes and the Los Angeles Galaxy took part, with the Galaxy earning third-place honors. The Earthquakes returned for the 2004 tournament, along with the Dallas Burn and the MetroStars.

The MetroStars started their tournament run with a 1-0 loss to Viking, but beat remaining group member FK Bødo/Glimt to advance to the semifinals. There, they defeated Dynamo Kyiv 3-2, while Viking ensured a rematch in the Final by beating San Jose on penalties, 1-1 (5-3).

In the Final, the MetroStars took the lead in the 27th minute with a goal from rookie defender Jeff Parke. The US side had earned a corner kick that was delivered by midfielder Amado Guevara and Parke rose at the far post to head it home past Viking keeper Frode Olsen. The MetroStars continued to apply pressure to the Norwegian side, narrowly missing with a strike in the 33rd minute, and held the Viking attack in check to claim the win.

In recent years, the Manga Cup has helped propel clubs onto greater glory. Rubin Kazan won the Cup in 2005 and 2006 before claiming their first Russian Premier League titles in 2008 and 2009, while 2007 Cup-winners Shaktar Donetsk went on to win their first UEFA Cup trophy in 2009.

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