LA Galaxy Comeback to Win Fourth MLS Cup Final
The Los Angeles Galaxy became the third team in MLS history to win back-to-back MLS Cup finals with a 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo, who became the second team to lose back-to-back finals, in front of their home crowd at the Home Depot Center. Despite Calen Carr giving the Dynamo the lead just before halftime, the Galaxy responded with three second-half goals to win their fourth MLS Cup.
The early minutes of the game favored Houston as the Dynamo pressed to get ahead early forcing some early stops from a shaky looking Josh Saunders while the Galaxy struggled to connect enough passes together. Most of LA’s attack came from the right side, but winger Christian Wilhelmsson continued to show the lack of cohesion with his teammates one would expect of a player in his 8th game after joining LA late in the season.
Eventually the Galaxy tightened up their passing and nearly took the lead with a combination by the team’s three Designated Players. In the 13th minute, David Beckham played a long ball to Robbie Keane on the left flank. Keane pressed forward until playing the ball to Landon Donovan who had only Tally Hall to beat. Unfortunately for the LA fans, Donovan’s shot ended up on the wrong side of the near post.
The Galaxy and Houston traded chances for the rest of the half until Adam Moffat sent a long ball to Carr in the 44th minute. Carr, who had missed Houston’s two previous games against DC United, timed his run perfectly to get behind the LA back four. Carr carried the ball into the box where he shrugged off a weak challenge from Tommy Meyer and sent his shot over Saunders at the near post to give Houston the lead heading into halftime.
The second half nearly started off perfectly for the Galaxy after Meyer got a head to a free kick from Beckham in the 49th minute, but the ball ended up at the feet of Keane in an offside position, nullifying his eventual goal.
Houston responded to the near-chance with one of their own in the 55th minute when Will Bruin found Carr alone in the box with a cross. Carr was able to get a headed shot on goal, but with the eventual save of the game, Saunders kept Houston’s lead at one.
At the hour mark, the game turned in the Galaxy’s favor. After two set-piece services from Beckham, Houston failed to clear the ball and eventually paid the price when Juninho sent a ball into the box. Omar Gonzalez, who was named the MLS Cup MVP, rose above Bobby Boswell and Kofi Sarkodie to beat Hall far post with a floated header.
Five minutes later Houston conceded a PK when Ricardo Clark went down to block Mike Magee’s attempted bicycle-kick, but had the ball strike his hand in the box. Landon Donovan stepped up to the spot and buried his chance.
The next minutes saw a number of chances as both teams switched tactics. The Galaxy brought in Edson Buddle and Marcelo Sarvas in exchange for Wilhelmsson and Juninho, while Houston brought on Giles Barnes and veteran Brian Ching for Moffat and Kofi Sarkodie.
Despite switching to a 3-5-2, the Dynamo were unable to bring the scoreline level with their best chances of the second half missing the frame or directed right at Saunders. Eventually the game would fall out of their reach at the hands of their keeper.
In the 93rd minute of play Mike Magee fed a ball behind the LA defense for Keane. As Keane headed for goal, he took a touch around Hall, but was taken down by the charging goalkeeper for the second PK of the game. After seeing his two previous goals called back, Keane finally made it on the scoresheet giving LA a two-goal lead and Houston no hope of a comeback.
At the final whistle, the LA Galaxy joined DC United as the only teams to win four MLS Cup Finals and bid farewell to Beckham and possibly Donovan.