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2011 MLS Cup Final: Game MVP Donovan Gives LA Its Third Title

2011 November 21
by Kyle Nelson

LA Galaxy 1-0 Houston Dynamo

After failing to make it to the MLS Cup final last year, the LA Galaxy were able to take home both the Supporter’s Shield and the MLS Cup for the first time since 2002. The LA Galaxy finished the regular season with only 5 losses and an unbeaten streak at the Home Depot Center, where the Galaxy finished their successful season beating the Houston Dynamo 1-0 in the Cup final.

From the start of the game the Galaxy were controlling the tempo of play and setting up a number of chances. However, LA struggled to test Dynamo keeper Tally Hall, finishing the half with 8 shots, but not a single one on goal.

Galaxy forward Adam Cristman had the first three chances to put LA up, but despite dangerous services from both David Beckham and Landon Donovan, the former New England player couldn’t get his headers on goal. Cristman also had a chance to get one with his feet after being played a through ball into the box, but the wet turf from a nearly all-day rain caused him to slip and allowed the Dynamo defense to close in before he could get a good touch to the ball.

Though the amount of possession for both teams was fairly even in the first half, Houston struggled to get anything dangerous in the attack. Both forward Calen Carr and midfielder Corey Ashe were using their speed to pester the LA defense, but neither player did very well – much like the rest of the Dynamo attackers – and would eventually lose possession.

In the second half, LA’s Robbie Keane seemed to take the place of Cristman as the Galaxy’s unlucky forward. Keane’s runs had been pestering the Houston backline all night and the Irish international appeared to put the Galaxy a goal up in the 57th minute by slotting the ball through Hall’s legs at the near post, but Keane was deemed offside.

Finally in the 72nd minute the Galaxy were able to put one in the net thanks to the play of the team’s three Designated Players. After winning the ball in Houston’s half, Beckham sent the ball up to Keane. Keane carried the ball across the field until he saw Donovan, who was named the game’s MVP, making a run in the opposite direction. A quick pass put the ball past the defense and into the path of Donovan who calmly took a shot with the outside of his foot past Hall. Despite Hall getting a touch to the ball and an attempted sliding clearance by defender Geoff Cameron, Donovan’s shot was the game-winning goal.

Scoring Summary:
LA — Landon Donovan 3 (Robbie Keane 1, David Beckham 4) 72

Bookings:
HOU — Bobby Boswell (caution; Handball) 13
LA — Adam Cristman (caution; Reckless Tackle) 40
HOU — Andre Hainault (caution; Reckless Foul) 74
LA — David Beckham (caution; Tactical Foul) 82
LA — Landon Donovan (caution; Delaying a Restart) 94+

Lineups:
Houston Dynamo — Tally Hall, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Jermaine Taylor, Danny Cruz (Colin Clark 78), Luiz Camargo, Adam Moffat, Corey Ashe (Je-Vaughn Watson 84), Brian Ching, Calen Carr (Carlo Costly 66).

Substitutes Not Used: Will Bruin, Hunter Freeman, Eddie Robinson, Tyler Deric.

LA Galaxy — Josh Saunders, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant, Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Juninho, Mike Magee, Adam Cristman (Chris Birchall 57), Robbie Keane.

Substitutes Not Used: Gregg Berhalter, Paolo Cardozo, Frankie Hejduk, Jovan Kirovski, Michael Stephens, Donovan Ricketts.

2 Responses
  1. Soccer Boy permalink
    November 21, 2011

    Donovan’s goal was world-class, and was set up by two great players–Keane and Beckham. Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable match to watch notwithstanding the low score. Saunders has been playing well for LA and deserves compliments for helping the team gain the championship. On the other hand, Christman was very unimpressive.

    I cannot wait for the 2012 season!

  2. November 21, 2011

    While I would agree with the statement that overall D2 does not have quite the impact it once did with players moving up from the lower leagues (one could actually say the same thing about the Championship as well) Josh Saunders did have a good season and looking at his history he’s a guy who been around the block a few times and lived to not only survive it but it made him a better player.
    2003 San Jose Earthquakes 0 (0)
    2003 → Portland Timbers (loan) 16 (0)
    2004 Portland Timbers 24 (0)
    2005–2006 Los Angeles Galaxy 0 (0)
    2005–2006 → Portland Timbers (loan) 50 (0)
    2007 Puerto Rico Islanders 22 (0)
    2008 Miami FC 27 (0)
    2008 → Los Angeles Galaxy (loan) 3 (0)
    2009– Los Angeles Galaxy

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