Galaxy defeat Dynamo in MLS Cup for Beck to Beck Championships

December 2, 2012

Landon Donovan / Brian Kowalski

Carson, Calif. -- On Saturday, the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo prepared to square off for the 2012 MLS Cup, and as kickoff approached at the Home Depot Center, numerous plotlines loomed over the matchup: Could the Galaxy win back-to-back titles and tie DC United with the most championships in MLS history? Would David Beckham's last MLS game leave him with 2 championships? Was this Landon Donovan's last game?

However, there was no time to contemplate the game's significance as the Galaxy were confronted from kickoff with a determined and championship-caliber team in the Houston Dynamo.

In the opening minutes, the Dynamo came out on the offensive attack, eager to avenge last year's loss to the Galaxy in the MLS final.  In the 2nd minute of play, Ricardo Clark took a shot inside the 18-yard box, but Josh Saunders was able to punch it out.

Following a strong start by the Dynamo, the Galaxy settled down and got the game under control.

In the 12th minute, Beckham delivered one of his world-famous passes over the defense to the feet of a streaking Robbie Keane.  Keane took a couple touches of the ball and passed it across the box to Donovan.  Donovan one-timed the shot past the diving Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, but the shot was just wide of goal.

Then in the 19th minute, the Galaxy had another chance to score the game's first goal when Beckham put a free-kick in front of goal, but Mike Magee's header hit the ground and bounced over the goal.

Dynamo supporters had traveled a couple thousand miles to the MLS Cup, and in the 44th minute they had reason to celebrate, as Calen Carr received the ball with Tommy Meyer trailing behind and only Saunders in front of him.  Carr shielded off Meyer to shoot and score over the head of a crouching Saunders before halftime.

The atmosphere at the HDC was how it should be for a MLS Cup, and the fans were in store for a memorable second half.

In the 60th minute, a Beckham corner-kick came back to him and he passed it in the center to Sean Franklin who switched the attack with a pass over to Juninho. Juninho made a terrific cross across goal and Omar Gonzalez rose above two Dynamo defenders to head the ball in at the far post past a leaping Hall to tie the game.

The Galaxy were the better team on the day with plenty of missed opportunities and goals called off by referee decisions, however, after Gonzalez scored the first goal, the floodgates opened up for the Galaxy.

In the 65th minute, Donovan stepped up for a penalty kick following a handball call from a Magee bicycle attempt. In typical fashion, under the highest of pressure, Donovan calmly slotted home the penalty kick and LA took a 2-1 lead as the HDC erupted.

Another MLS legend, Brian Ching, almost changed the MLS Cup when he shot on goal in the 87th minute from 25 yards out. The shot did not miss by much and nearly tied the game.

In stoppage time, Magee got the ball to Keane in the box on a great pass and Keane was fouled as he made his way past Hall.  Keane converted on the penalty kick and the LA Galaxy went on to win their fourth MLS Title.

“For me personally, this felt more satisfying," Donovan said. "Last year there was a heavy expectation I think, with the uncertainty about David’s future and we hadn’t won a championship, from the beginning MLS Cup was in LA so there was a lot pressure to get there. This year we could enjoy it a little bit more I think. To finish where we were, in fourth place, and then kind of unexpectedly move through the playoffs that was way a little more satisfying I think.”

It is hard to argue against the LA Galaxy being the best MLS club since the league's inception in 1996, especially this Galaxy team over the last four seasons.

Donovan and Beckham / Brian Kowalski

This specific squad has reached 3 MLS Finals in 4 years, won 2 championships, and 2 Supporters' Shields.  Led by arguably the best American soccer coach ever in Bruce Arena, this Galaxy team had a stellar defense led by 2012 MLS Cup MVP Omar Gonzalez; a one-of-a-kind midfield led by David Beckham; deadly forwards in Robbie Keane and Mike Magee; and the USA's best soccer player in Landon Donovan, who now has won 5 MLS Championships.

As the MLS moves forward in the post-Beckham era, there is no doubt that one day when the league is all-grown up and enters the conversation as one of the most recognizable soccer leagues in the world, this LA Galaxy team will be a treasured part of MLS history.

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for The Daily Sports Herald

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...