The Galaxy took home their third MLS Cup with a 1-0 victory, as Landon Donovan netted the winner in the 72nd minute.LA's Designated Players stepped up when they needed to
The Galaxy suffered through a first half which ended scoreless thanks to profligate finishing, particularly that of fill-in forward Adam Cristman. As the second half wore on, it appeared that it could be a game where the Dynamo nicked a goal against the run of play to snatch an undeserving result. That all changed in the 72nd minute, however.
David Beckham rose well to win a header, which found the feet of Robbie Keane. The Ireland international – showing no ill effects of his 10,000-plus-mile journey for Ireland's Euro 2012 qualifiers during the previous two weeks – slotted a classy ball to Donovan, who in turn showed his own quality with an outstanding chipped right-footed finish. It was a goal worthy of winning a championship, and it was the team's three DPs who provided it.
Houston clearly missed Brad Davis
There was plenty of talk throughout the week about how Houston could possibly fill the shoes of midfielder Brad Davis, who was lost with a torn quad in the Eastern Conference final. In the end, the MVP finalist proved irreplaceable.
Facing a disciplined Galaxy squad, the Dynamo were unable to find a way past the LA backline. Though their own defense held up well, the visitors were never able to find the cutting pass, or pinpoint cross that was needed to unlock LA's defense. Houston only managed three shots on goal, none of which really bothered Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
In truth, the Dynamo's best chance to win the MLS Cup was to take a scoreless game into penalties and when Donovan scored in the 72nd minute, finding a late equalizer was just too big of a task for Houston. Even with more attacking onus in the game's final 20 minutes, the Dynamo could hardly make the Galaxy's rearguard sweat. It was a testament to LA's defensive qualities, but even more to the fact that Houston was sorely lacking the creativity and vision that Davis would have supplied.
Major League Soccer has a deserving champion
Last year's MLS Cup victory by the Colorado Rapids reignited the debate over whether the playoff structure does enough to avoid a seemingly arbitrary league champion. Though the league is taking steps to remedy this issue, the Galaxy's quality meant they would simply not be denied, no matter the playoff format.
With 67 regular season points, the Galaxy put together the second-highest regular season total in league history, and they followed that up by winning all four of their postseason matches. The Galaxy's depth shined through in the playoffs, with three crucial goals coming from the unsung Mike Magee, and the team surviving the loss of the suspended Juninho for the second leg of the conference semifinals against New York.
Sunday's win came in a game where the Galaxy were clearly not firing on all cylinders- the classic hallmark of a great team. Up and down the pitch, this is simply one of the greatest MLS teams ever assembled, with one of its greatest coaches leading the way in Bruce Arena. There can be little doubt that the 2011 MLS Cup trophy belongs in Carson, Calif.
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