Sunday, March 18, 2012
LA Galaxy take undisputed 2012 Super Cup
L.A. Galaxy win MLS Cup
The L.A. Galaxy captured their third MLS championship on Sunday night with an exquisite winning goal that couldn’t have been more appropriate for a club named for a collection of stars.
After more than an hour of frustration and several egregious misses by some of L.A.’s lesser lights, multimillionaire Designated Players David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan showed a sellout crowd of 30,281 at The Home Depot Center and the resilient Houston Dynamo how titles are won. The Galaxy’s 1-0 triumph in MLS Cup 2011 was sealed in the 72nd minute, when Beckham rose to meet the ball and, with a skilled flick of his head, found Keane on the left.
The Irishman tore toward goal and practically screwed Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell into the turf with a cut to the right. Donovan exploited the space, ran toward the left post and met Keane’s soft through pass.
Like he did last summer in the waning seconds against Algeria, Donovan delivered. A deft shot from with his right foot evaded Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall and settled just inside the right post, giving L.A. a lead it wouldn’t possibly relinquish at home with so much stake.
If Beckham leaves MLS—his five-year deal expires at year end—he’ll do so as a league champion for the eighth time in his career. His seventh title came in his final season at Real Madrid in 2007. He played on a hurt hamstring on Sunday, and was saluted with a “We want Beckham!” chant from the fans following the match.
Donovan won his fourth MLS Cup on Sunday night, but surely this one will mean the most. He earned three in his first five years, a period in which he admits that he was less developed as both a player and a person. He’s now 29 years old, a World Cup hero and the captain of American soccer’s most accomplished and recognized club.
Keane, a scoring legend for both his country and in the English Premier League, claimed the first league championship of a storied career.
The trio earns more than $12.2 million per season combined, more than twice the entire salary budget of 15 of the league’s 17 other teams. For a club that was at the bottom of the league just three years ago, the money surely was well spent. The Galaxy led practically wire to wire, finishing the regular season 19-5-10 then going 4-0-0 in the playoffs. L.A. also won its CONCACAF Champions League group, adding to the argument that this team, anchored by its great triumvirate but boasting stars on the rise like Omar Gonzalez and Juninho, is the best in MLS history.
No club featuring a Designated Player, whose salaries count only a small portion against a team’s budget, had won an MLS title before Sunday.
To the Dynamo’s credit, L.A. had to work for its championship. This was the most decorated MLS Cup final match-up in MLS’s 16-year history, just the third featuring former titlists and the first pitting teams with multiple MLS Cups on their respective resumes. Houston (15-10-13) competed like a champion, but without injured MVP runner-up Brad Davis, simply lacked the firepower to threaten the hosts.
The Galaxy easily could have won by several goals, but the vast majority of the early chances fell to forward Adam Cristman, who was thrust into the starting lineup because of the ankle injury suffered by Chad Barrett. Cristman pressured the Dynamo back line and was able to get open, but he wasn’t up to the occasion and scuffed at least three golden opportunities. Midfielder Mike Magee, who’d been clutch throughout the playoffs, left his accuracy in the locker room as well.
L.A. coach Bruce Arena removed Cristman in the 58th, inserted Chris Birchall and pushed Donovan up top alongside Keane. A minute before, Keane had an apparent goal called back for offside, which surely frustrated the Galaxy but signaled that Houston was about to break. Donovan’s desperation to win this title ensured the next opportunity wouldn’t be wasted. Keane and Donovan nearly combined on a promising counterattack in the 61st, then 11 minutes later, produced a goal that will live in MLS legend.
Donovan accepted the game MVP award on the field after the whistle, shortly after racing toward the crowd and pumping his fists. It was the conclusion of another triumphant chapter in a career that has made him America’s most celebrated soccer player, and a fitting end to a game and a season that proved that Designated Players can thrive and deliver in MLS.
LA Galaxy Win 2011 Supporters' Shield
LA Galaxy clinch best record in MLS following Philadelphia’s 2-0 win over Seattle
The LA Galaxy have captured the 2011 Supporters’ Shield as a result of the Philadelphia Union’s 2-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC tonight at CenturyLink Field. With the result, the Galaxy have an 18-4-10 record for 64 points, giving LA an insurmountable seven-point advantage at the top of the MLS standings.
This is the fourth time in club history and the second straight season in which the Galaxy have won the Supporters’ Shield, which is given annually to the team that finished with the best regular season record in MLS. The Galaxy’s four Supporters’ Shield wins are now tied with D.C. United as the most in MLS history, one more than the Columbus Crew.
By winning the Supporters’ Shield, the Galaxy have clinched home-field advantage throughout the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs while also earning a berth in Group Play of the 2012/13 CONCACAF Champions League.
The Galaxy, who first won the Supporters’ Shield with an MLS record 68 points in 1998 and then again in 2002 when they won their first MLS Cup, are now the third team in MLS history to repeat at Supporters’ Shield winners, having also won the trophy last year, when they finished the season with an 18-7-5 record for a league-best 59 points. They join D.C. United (2006 and 2007) and the Columbus Crew (2008 and 2009) as the only repeat winners of the Supporters’ Shield.
In the first 15 years of MLS, five teams have won the MLS Cup in the same year as they won the Supporters’ Shield with the Columbus Crew the last to accomplish the feat, doing so in 2008 when they had an MLS-best 57 points and then beat the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in MLS Cup, which was played that year at The Home Depot Center.