2011 Year in Review: A Championship Season for the LA Galaxy

December 20, 2011

Landon Donovan and Galaxy Celebrate Championship
Tri Le / The Daily Sports Herald

The Galaxy came into the 2011 season with lofty goals following consecutive disappointments in the previous two seasons.  From the outset, it was clear that the Galaxy would not settle for anything less than what they deserved in the 2009 and 2010 seasons -- a championship.

In the regular season the Galaxy proved themselves superior to their MLS competition, as they earned the Supporters' Shield for the second straight year and were undefeated at home.

In addition to the MLS season, the Open Cup, friendlies, and the World Football Challenge, the Galaxy also were participating in the CONCACAF Champions League, where they were able to earn a spot in 2012's knockout round by advancing out of their group.

As the 2011 MLS playoffs got underway, the Galaxy were forced to start out with a grueling and difficult series against the New York Red Bulls that they won 3-1 on aggregate.  Three days later, LA would face Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Championship with little rest.

Real Salt Lake had beaten the Galaxy in the 2009 MLS Cup, and with the scored tied at 1-1 in the Conference Title game, Real Salt Lake appeared ready to knock the Galaxy out again.

However, this Galaxy squad -- built around the Big 3 of Beckham, Donovan, and Keane, as well as a remarkable defense -- would not let LA lose, as they beat Real Salt Lake 3-1 to avenge the 2009 loss.

Playing in the 2011 MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center before a record sellout crowd, the Galaxy squared off against the Houston Dynamo.

Fittingly, a play involving the Big 3 would bring the Galaxy their championship in the 72nd minute when David Beckham headed the ball to a running Robbie Keane, who juked his defender and left the ball off for Landon Donovan.  Donovan flicked the ball into goal past the goalkeeper with the outside of his right foot and it went into the net before a sliding Houston defender could save it.

David Beckham Celebrates MLS Title
Tri Le / The Daily Sports Herald

As the whistle blew on the 2011 season and possibly the David Beckham era, Donovan and Beckham embraced as the team swarmed them in celebration.

The Galaxy recently finished a soccer tour and vacation in Asia and Australia where they defeated all three opponents -- the Indonesia Selection Team, Philippines National Team, and Melbourne Victory.

In the three games, Beckham, Donovan, and Keane shined as their goals, penalty kicks, and assists led the way.

So what's next for the Galaxy?  The answer depends on who stays.

David Beckham has been seriously linked to a new contract in Paris.  Landon Donovan is on loan to Everton in the English Premier League.  Omar Gonzalez is receiving interest from the EPL also, and other Galaxy players figure to be in high demand following their success in the 2011 season.

However the future turns out for the LA Galaxy, it was a 2011 season and era to remember.

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for The Daily Sports Herald

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