For the fourth consecutive year the LA Galaxy reached the Western Conference final. This time the place came at the expense of New York.The Los Angeles Galaxy trudged past the New York Red Bulls 3-1 on aggregate to reach the Western Conference final against Real Salt Lake.
Down a goal from the first leg, New York looked to make a game of it in the Home Depot Center when Luke Rodgers opened the scoring just four minutes in. However, replies from Mike Magee and Landon Donovan condemned the Red Bulls to a playoff exit.
Already shorn of central midfielders Rafael Marquez and Juninho through suspension, the game further lost Teemu Tainio in the early going. He was replaced by Stephane Auvray after a quarter hour.
By then of course the Red Bulls had exploited the extra space in the Galaxy midfield to score. Thierry Henry found space ahead of the defensive line and slid the ball through into the run of Rodgers, who poked a shot under Josh Saunders to tie the aggregate score.
As the game moved toward halftime, the Los Angeles players became more accustomed to New York's garish yellow shorts and settled into the game. Chris Birchall fired a long-distance shot that Frank Rost fumbled. However, with Robbie Keane trying to poach the rebound, Rost pulled off a stunning quick save to keep the Galaxy off the board.
New York failed to heed the warning signs, however, and LA equalized minutes later. David Beckham took a trademark corner which Magee, scorer in the first leg, headed home.
Before the hour mark, Rodgers had two more good chances to add to his tally. For the first, he waited at the far post for a Dane Richards cross, but Donovan hustled the length of the field to tip away the counterattack at the last second. For the second, Dax McCarty slid Rodgers through on the inside channel of Omar Gonzalez, but Rodgers blasted into the side netting.
But LA killed off any hopes of a comeback with a quarter hour left in the match. Roy Miller wrapped his leg around David Beckham in the area, drawing a penalty kick. Donovan stepped up and fired home the penalty to Rost's right side to seal the tie.
Follow ZAC LEE RIGG on or shoot him an email.