According to Jorge Campos, it’s called the “sombrerito,” the little sombrero. It’s a move, Campos said, that in Mexico is used to separate the players from the pretenders.
Cobi Jones calls it “the rainbow” and is still trying to perfect it.
Whatever the name, it’s a play that, when executed as perfectly as Campos did Sunday at the Rose Bowl, can light up an entire stadium.
Certainly, 18,347 in Pasadena were brought to their feet by Campos’ feat, which resulted in the second of two spectacular goals by the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Burn (17-15).
It came in the 82nd minute of Major League Soccer’s regular-season finale, about 20 minutes after Campos had discarded his goalkeeping outfit and moved up the field to play striker.
Running into the penalty area to the left of the net and confronted by Dallas defender Mark Santel, Campos heel-flicked the ball up over his own head and Santel’s, then raced around the bemused Burn player and crossed the ball on the volley with the outside of his right foot.
So stunning was the move--as difficult to describe as to perform--that even Galaxy teammate John Garvey was almost caught applauding. But Garvey had enough presence of mind to unleash a shot that Dallas goalkeeper Jeff Cassar got a hand to but could not stop.
The fans leaped to their feet in delight, and Galaxy defender Curt Onalfo was so amazed that he ran to Campos, hoisted him over his shoulder and carried him around the field.
“I don’t know what he thought about that,” Onalfo said, grinning, “but I just wanted to be a part of it. Maybe it’ll be on ESPN tonight.”
Certainly, it will make the league’s highlight film.
Making Campos’ effort even more astonishing was the fact that he had only arrived in Los Angeles a little before 6 a.m., having been flown in from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, aboard Nike’s corporate jet after playing for Mexico in its 2-1 loss to Honduras on Saturday night in a World Cup ’98 qualifying game.
“I was tired, yes, but I love to play,” Campos said afterward in the chaos of a packed Galaxy locker room.
Good as his assist was, Campos said the Galaxy’s first goal, scored six minutes earlier by Arash Noamouz, was even better.
Hobbled by injury for much of the season, Noamouz is not 100% game fit, but he had enough magic left in him to beat half the Burn team before scoring his second goal of the season.
Receiving the the ball at the top right-hand corner of the penalty area, Noamouz dribbled past no fewer than four players--Lawrence Lozzano, Gerell Elliott, Jorge Flores and the luckless Santel--then hit a shot that eluded Cassar and went in off the left goal post.
“The game was [bad],” Galaxy Coach Lothar Osiander said, “but those two goals were worth the price of admission.”
Actually, the game wasn’t as dismal as Osiander painted it. Because it was meaningless in terms of result--the Galaxy (19-13) having already clinched first place and Dallas second place in MLS’ Western Conference--the players were under no pressure.
As a result, it was a free-flowing, open game with plenty of chances at either end.
Dallas, in fact, had much the better of the game for the first hour or so. The Burn put the ball in the net twice, but both times the players were called offside and the goals disallowed.
Ted Eck eventually put Dallas on the scoreboard in the 89th minute, firing a 20-yard shot that flew into the upper right corner of the net beyond the reach of Galaxy backup goalkeeper David Kramer, who made several good saves in his half-hour stint.
But it was the “other goalkeeper” that had the fans buzzing as they left the Rose Bowl, the goalkeeper who wears the loud lime-colored outfit, the goalkeeper who wants to be a forward, the goalkeeper who knows how to do not only the Macarena--which seems to have become the Galaxy’s theme song--but the “sombrerito,” a much more intricate dance.
The Galaxy hopes it is the inspiration that carries the team through the MLS playoffs.