The Galaxy controlled the game from the beginning and eventually found the back of the net late in the second half thanks to their three star players.CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy's star trio was worth every penny.
David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan - the team's three Designated Players - were all involved in the game's only goal as the Galaxy defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0 at the Home Depot Center to win the 2011 MLS Cup.
The Galaxy capped off a fantastic regular season that saw the team pick up a league-leading 67 points by winning their third title in front of a packed house on their home field.
"It's a well-balanced team," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said about the Galaxy. "They've been the best in the league from Day 1 to now. They are a deserving champion."
Donovan was awarded the MLS Cup final MVP after scoring in the 72nd minute on a play that was set up by both Beckham and Keane.
It was a fitting ending to what could have been Donovan's final game playing alongside Beckham, whose historic five-year deal with the Galaxy is now over. And Donovan had nothing but praise for his longtime teammate while accepting his MVP award.
"He pulled his hamstring earlier in the week and was basically playing on one leg tonight," Donovan said. "He put in a warrior-like effort and I'm real honored to play next to him."
Beckham now has won championships in three different nations - England, Spain and now the United States. He was unclear about a potential return to the MLS after the game.
“A lot of people said if we didn’t win tonight it would have been an unsuccessful five years,” Beckham said. “It’s nice to keep a few people quiet.”
The win also marked Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena's record-setting third time winning the league's championship after leading his squad to a perfect record at home during the regular season and playoffs, including a 1-0 victory over Houston back in May.
The Galaxy were in the driver's seat early on and Beckham nearly set up the first goal of the game off a corner kick in the 11th minute, but Adam Cristman's header from point-blank range sailed over the crossbar. The forward was unmarked in front of the net.
Nearly 16 minutes later, the Galaxy duo was at it again. This time, Beckham placed a cross to Cristman, who snuck past the defense but watched his header rise above the net.
The Galaxy continued to put the pressure on the Dynamo in the closing minutes of the first half, leaving Houston with no real scoring opportunities in the first 45 minutes. And Los Angeles would pick up right where it left off after halftime.
Just three minutes after the break, Keane beat the offside trap off a deflected long pass and found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Tally Hall. Slightly off balance, Keane skipped the ball just inches wide of the far post in yet another golden opportunity for the hosts.
Moments later, it appeared as though Keane had finally broke the deadlock when he put a strike through Hall's legs into the net. But as the fans were celebrating, the linesman was holding up his flag on a controversial offside call. Replays, however, suggested that Keane was indeed level with the defender when Beckham delivered the ball.
But the Galaxy would eventually get their goal in the 72nd minutes thanks to their three best - and most expensive - players. Coming down the left side of the pitch, Beckham headed the ball to Keane who then slotted it through to Donovan. The U.S. international chipped over Hall, who got a fingertip on the ball, but not enough to prevent the opening goal.
Beckham nearly completed the ideal ending to what could have been his final MLS game when his free kick from just outside the box was saved by Hall in the closing seconds.
The Dynamo did not have a chance from the beginning as they were without league MVP finalist Brad Davis, who went down in the Eastern Conference final with a torn quad. Davis was replaced in the midfield by left back Corey Ashe and Jermaine Taylor filled in at the defensive spot, but neither player could fill his shoes.
To make things even worse for Houston, midfielder Geoff Cameron hurt his right leg in the first half but continued to play through the injury.
"Give Houston a lot of credit. They made the game very difficult," Donovan said. "There's no question that not having Brad Davis really hurt them. The game probably would have looked different with him in there."