Galaxy roll past RSL to clinch place in MLS Cup Final

GalaxyWinsWest (Getty)

BY ADAM SERRANO

The Los Angeles Galaxy continued their steady push towards the MLS Cup as they advanced to the league championship with a 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake at the Home Depot Center on Sunday night. 

The victory put the Galaxy in their second final in three years where they will take on the Houston Dynamo on their home field on November 20th. One win away from their ultimate goal, the Supporters Shield winners understand that despite a fine season, there is plenty of work to be done. 

"We haven’t achieved what we want yet but we’ve taken all the right steps," said Landon Donovan. "We’re real proud of the effort the guys put in all week. It’s a really tough week and our guys did a great job and I thought we were really excellent."

From the start, the match was a back and forth affair, in large part due to the loss of RSL defender Nat Borchers, who was unable to play in the match due to a quad strain. After a nervy start, the Galaxy struck first in the 22nd minute when Andy Williams fouled Omar Gonzalez in the box, setting up a penalty. It was Donovan, who stepped up to the spot burying the chance that gave Los Angeles the lead in the 23rd minute. 

RSL answered back two minutes later, off a corner kick, Jamison Olave was able to keep the ball in, heading the ball to a waiting Alvaro Saborio, who headed into an empty net. As the half wore on, RSL absorbed pressure from the Galaxy, before a flurry of activity of their own that was highlighted by Kyle Beckerman's shot off the post in stoppage time. 

"We were defending well," said Real Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson. "You can't attack for 90 minutes straight and you can't defend for 90 minutes straight, you have to pick and choose your moments. that's why it was going back and forth." 

In the second half, the Galaxy began to assert control of the game and eventually broke through in the 58th when David Beckham connected with Mike Magee. The Galaxy midfielder found himself lightly marked on the corner kick and was able to head in the chance past Rimando. The goal was the third goal of the playoffs for Magee, each coming through service from Beckham. The back and forth action continued just a minute later when RSL nearly equalized when Fabian Espindola rattled the bar with a chance from close range.

Although RSL had their chances, it was Los Angeles that was able to finish off the game, in the 68th minute when Donovan found the ever dangerous Robbie Keane down the left side. The Irishman was able to cut past Olave and fire a shot into the back of the net for the dagger, assuring the Galaxy their spot in the final. 

"In the first half we started pretty well and got ahead and then we conceded straight after so that was disappointing," said Beckham. "We came out in the second half and we walked through the tunnel and we heard some of the Salt Lake players saying that we were tired and we were done, but I think that inspired us a little bit. "

Now the Galaxy will enjoy a two week break while they prepare to face Houston in the Cup Final. However, there will not be rest for every member of the club as Keane and Donovan will head off on international duty.

After a trying season that has seen the club advance in nearly every competition that they've been in, the Galaxy will finally get their moment to exhale before their most important game of the season. 

"If any team needs the two weeks off it’s our team," said head coach Bruce Arena. "Hopefully we can get our group ready for the final. It’s not going to be easy. Houston is a very good team, they smacked us around a couple of weeks ago. We know we’re going to have to be at our very best if we hope to win this MLS Cup."

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73 Responses to Galaxy roll past RSL to clinch place in MLS Cup Final

  1. 3vil l33t says:

    Can’t wait to go see them lose to the Dynamo

  2. RB says:

    I’m not an LA fan but it’s clear that they are the class of the league where it counts: winning on the field. Everybody knows they can be beaten now and then, like any team, but all others are only pretenders to the throne, given the level the Galaxy have been playing at consistently this year.

  3. UCanStudyBuzzed says:

    One of the best MLS games I’ve ever watched, and the best I’ve ever seen Beckham play in a Galaxy jersey …awesome showcase for the league; hopefully the final will be just as exciting.

  4. RB says:

    I agree with UCanStudyBuzzed…. Great soccer. If RSL has to lose, I prefer them to lose to a classy team like LA. I hope this sets a new standard for the MLS, especially in the playoffs. Now they just need to figure out the playoff system because this game should have been the final.

  5. DynamicMike says:

    I hope Brad Davis heals in time. It wouldn’t be a final if “left footed Beckham” and right footed Beckham didn’t square off. This will be a great sibling match fighting for Daddy’s luv. I hope this will prompt the sale of the rest of AEG’s share in the Dynamo now that they got their stadium for concerts.

  6. Chris says:

    Would love to see the Dynamo, AEG’s ugly step-child, upset the golden boys in their (L.A.’s) own stadium. I guess Anschutz gets his own trophy either way though, huh? Still, you gotta think he’s pulling for the Galaxy, considering all the money that’s been poured into those DPs and the f***-all that’s been poured into Houston’s team.

  7. JCRO says:

    I just am pleased that we get another chance to see the Robbie Keane “jelly roll” celebration. I keep thinking he might not make it back up

  8. blag says:

    Sadly Brad Davis has already confirmed for us that he will not be in the final.

  9. RB says:

    As RB, I’m happy to see RSL lose, period. :-)

  10. Gnarls says:

    Plenty of jackwagons said the same thing about New york and RSL. Keep ‘em coming.

  11. Gnarls says:

    Becks thought he was 26 tonight! Just got home from the HDC and I’m still pumped.

  12. CMac says:

    LA’s third goal was horseshit. How on earth does the ref think Espindola has any advantage when he has two Gals on top of him, the only possible play he has is backwards! Then a few passes later Juninho elbow-checks Williams to the ground to get the ball to Landy… How do LA fans seriously think they don’t get handed advantage at every opportunity?! Still, LA won, RSL didn’t. I AM bitter my team lost…at least we lost to the Champs, because there is no way MLS lets Houston win this game.
    Damn. I am having a hard time staying really fired up here.

  13. Gnarls says:

    I am an LA fan and I approve this message.

  14. Gnarls says:

    Once you dry the tears from your eyes, read this. Espindola had SEVERAL blown chances tonight. Keane got manhandled a couple times without a whistle being blown. As far as MLS refs go, this one was pretty fair.

    Galaxy fans have a lot of respect for RSL. Had we lost tonight, we would have lost to the better team. As a parting gift, we give you free entrance into the Champions League. Enjoy.

  15. dgoshilla says:

    What about the other two goals? The game could’ve been 8-1. The Galaxy dominated the second half. It become laughable after a while. I just don’t see how you can sit there and type like it was the ref. RSL is a great team. They just had a lot of injuries during the season and they never quite recovered from the CCL loss. Galaxy are peaking and RSL are about two months behind.

  16. CMac says:

    I know Gnarls…I know. LA did win the game. And it was a pretty good game, too.

  17. CMac says:

    Calm down, I thought I was clear in saying I was posting in the bitterness of defeat. I don’t think the ref won the game for LA, just helped them a little ;).
    Seriously though, Calls and no calls went both ways, and LA is playing like champs, but I’m still bitter RSL lost.
    To be even more honest, this bitterness is an old bitterness from April; this was just one more disappointment, one more painful sigh about the season which could have been.

  18. Limey says:

    Wow what a goal by McGee! Fantastic!!

  19. Neruda says:

    I too am upset over the loss to LA but any MLS team with Beckham, Keane and McGee are hard to beat. Props to LA for being this years champs. Notice I didn’t mention LD. Galaxy management should take LDs bloated salary for the year and give it to McGee. Don’t tell me he scored another penalty he didn’t earn Keane and other could just as well bury those.

    I sincerely hope Donovan shows better against France if he plays at all.

    RSL need to add some attacking depth this offseason. Andy Williams isn’t what he used to be. If the would increase payroll (currently a fifth of LAs) and find a few more quality attacking players who are willing to fit into Kries’s team first philosophy I think RSL can win CCL and compete better in MLS.

  20. facts says:

    You earned alot of respect by coming on to comment after that loss. Your bitterness is nothing to be ashamed of because it goes to show how much you love your team. RSL was the only team that could have beaten the Galaxy and that says alot about them. I was at the game and I love the fact that we had to beat the best to get to the final, it makes it that much sweeter. Go Galaxy!

  21. facts says:

    Why? do you have the final game of the season on video?

  22. facts says:

    +1 – I love the celebration but I always think he is going to get hurt doing it too.

  23. TommyOC says:

    Anshutz totally doesn’t care about Houston or its fans! I mean, it shows when he decided to move the old Earthquakes there and shows even more when he decided to bankroll a new stadium for the team.

    What an uncaring, miserly bastard!

    (But let’s keep it real, shall we? LA MAKES more money, therefore LA gets to SPEND more money. Don’t forget, LA was the first profitable team in the league’s history – something that happened years before Beckham’s arrival. LA fans have rewarded AEG for their investment… and get rewarded in return.)

  24. From the start, the match was a back and forth affair, in large part due to the loss of RSL defender Nat Borchers, who was unable to play in the match due to a quad strain. After a nervy start, the Galaxy struck first in the 22nd minute when Andy Williams fouled Omar Gonzalez in the box, setting up a penalty. It was Donovan, who stepped up to the spot burying the chance that gave Los Angeles the lead in the 23rd minute.

  25. g? says:

    Seattle+Rosales would’ve been a worthy adversary. Especially considering that missed PK both saved your home record, and would’ve been a HUGE swing for the shield.
    (Not even considering Seattle+Zakuani+Rosales…)
    BUT we didn’t have either, so well done LA. That kind of consistency is really impressive.

  26. Skittles says:

    Donovan played the same way he has throughout his career. Moments of brilliance (lead pass to Keane for the score) and long stretches of disappearing.

    Nothing new.

    Regarding his salary, David Moyes has come out again that he’d like to sign Donovan on loan again. Though, I’ve heard some speculation by Ives on here that a permanent move to Everton could become a reality, if LA win MLS Cup.

  27. Skittles says:

    Hard to proclaim a worthy adversary when the opponent that beat you, was beaten.

  28. spencer says:

    All I know is if I’m the coach of the Dynamo I’m threatening my players if they let McGee score again. It’s embarrassing to get scored on by the shortest guy on the field.

  29. spencer says:

    Off a header obviously.

  30. dan says:

    keep saying it, just makes victory all the sweeter.

    sorry we are the best and every team wants to be us, not our problem

  31. dan says:

    should’ve, would’ve, could’ve
    fact of the matter is every team has to deal with injuries and with the salary cap it just makes it harder due to lowering the level of your bench.

    RSL made you look like kids and they were just beaten by us

  32. DCU says:

    simple, no playoffs.

    Galaxy deserved to be crowned Champion at the end of the season, they were the best team all year round and that’s all they should have to do.

    Why can’t MLS Cup be a separate end of season cup tournament? Give the real money to the Actual champions, currently called supporters shield (retarded name)

  33. DCU says:

    To compare Davis as good as Beckham is off the rocker. Davis is good but he is no where near the class of Becks

  34. chris says:

    Because playoffs are the sh!t

  35. hogatroge says:

    The Dynamo have a lot of issues they’ll need to address before the final (no Davis, passing, finishing, etc.), but set-piece defending (as of recently) isn’t one of them. I hope I don’t have to eat my words, now.

  36. Mario in QT says:

    That was one of the best MLS games I have witnessed.

    Now if we could get the rest of the league to play like LA and RSL. Props also to Houston who knocked out my Union. They pressed our midfielders and forced long balls into the attacking third which were repeatedly met by taller Houston defenders.

    Glad to be an MLS fan and seeing the great level of play in the playoffs. Now if we can get a new coach in NY they might be able to join the elites.

  37. DC Josh says:

    I go to the bathroom and I miss a goal. I look away and I miss another. I go to bed and I miss two more. The life of a supporter.

  38. Vince Clortho says:

    From an RSL fan.
    Kudos to LA for a dominant season and a deserved win. RSL didn’t defend well enough.

  39. Cabrito says:

    Less than a sellout at the HDC? Pathetic.

  40. marco says:

    I believe Cameron and Boswell will shut down Keane, so someone else for Galaxy will need to score. Carr will be able to get behind Galaxy FB’s, so Ching will get some 1v1 opportunities in the middle. Galaxy 2-1. Toss-up if Davis plays.

  41. Gnarls says:

    I’ve made that argument so many times here. Maybe one day MLS will stop hating itself for being different and actually run a format similar to the rest of the footballing world. Regarding MLS Cup being a separate tourney, it technically already is. It should just be articulated as such.

  42. marco says:

    Best if Carr gets behind Franklin, then Omar gets pulled wide leaving Ching with AJ.

  43. Gnarls says:

    CMac, even I’m still bitter about April! I think every MLS fan is, or should be. The good news is that RSL will be in 2012-12 CCL, and assuming they still have mostly the same lineup, they’ll dominate their way through the tourney again. They’re a class team with a class manager.

  44. Gnarls says:

    Magee is on fire. 3 goals in 3 games. God I love that guy.

  45. jamesey says:

    salt is bitter, so it’s natural for you to feel that way.

  46. The 10 says:

    That joke of a penalty changed everything. If that’s all it takes for Omar Gonzales to go down then I never want to see him in a US jersey. Omar is 6’5″ and 210+ lbs. He easily has 6 inches and 50 lbs on Andy Williams and yet when Williams brushes him Gonzales goes down like he got shot with a sniper rifle.

  47. Hincha Tim says:

    As an RSL fan, congrats to LAG. They played an honest attacking game. RSL’s midfield was off its game again. Morales and Beckerman were not clicking and Andy Williams was not good on either side of the ball. As I said at the beginning of the season, RSL has to address two areas: add another attacking midfielder (basically a young Andy Williams) and upgrade on its outside backs. I don’t understand why Kreis is so enamored of Robbie Russell and Chris Wingert. Beltran is the best choice at outside back, he fast, plays well defensively and can get forward. They need more of that, to add width to their attack since they play the 4-4-2 diamond.

  48. Aaron says:

    Hmmm… the last 45 minutes it looked to me like RSL was a bunch of kinds playing bunker-ball around their own goal.

  49. Aaron says:

    I’m an RSL season ticket holder and a passionate fan. Although I am sad about the loss, there is no bitterness. That was a great game and although it ended 3-1, it was a lot more even than than the score shows. It was one of the best games I have seen in the MLS, against two teams that match up well and play a great style of soccer. Congratulations LA. We’ll make some tweaks in the offseason and stick it to you next year.

  50. Colin says:

    Anschutz only owns 1/2 the Dynamo, so don’t be mad when he only shows 1/2 the attention. BTW, I didn’t see De La Hoya at the trophy presentation in KC? Where’s the love from him?

  51. Colin says:

    In reply to Chris…

  52. Colin says:

    You do realize Keane’s goal was set up by Donovan’s great pass, yeah? And LD saved a goal against Rodgers in the NYRB series…

  53. A wise man once says:

    He was in the air when he was shoved. If you’re shoved hard enough while in the air you’ll fall. Was he shoved hard enough? I have no clue, the camera angles were horrible.

  54. ViperLAG says:

    It was a great game but the officiating was pathetic. Especially the line judge on our end (west sideline of the HDC). This pathetic excuse for a USSF ref (sadly all USSF refs are bad) could hardly keep up with last man and that flurry around the box just before the end of the 1st half had many RSL players offsides in the 1st two shots before Beckermans shot off the post. I am happy that the Galaxy one but these refs were doing neither team any favors by calling a clean match. Sad that the MLS cannot get away from using USSF officials and begin to negotiate and hire its own group of refs.

  55. beachbum says:

    fun match, great commercial for MLS

    Beckham was Man of the Match imho, Sunders too

    Best game for Keane in the uniform, dangerous all night

    lots of other strong perfromances, Juninho for example, and Magee keeps rising

    looking forward to the final

  56. beachbum says:

    Saunders*

    dude has been playing some serious ball

  57. Hincha Tim says:

    How old is Saunders and is he American? From what I saw in the two playoff games that I watched him in, the dude should be getting some attention as a future USMNT keeper. He’s got game.

  58. RB says:

    I noticed that, too.

  59. Gnarls says:

    Psssh, 23,000+ on a sh!t weather day is fine. We Californians stay inside when it drops below 60 degrees. Unless you’re sitting in a Space Needle-shaped ivory tower, try to keep it in perspective.

  60. ViperLAG says:

    CMac, I hear you. I am happy that my beloved club won last night and I was there constantly agonizing for RSL to come back any time we took a lead. They are a great squad possessing a wonderful midfield. You guys will be back next year and most likely the prohibitive favorites to win the MLS Cup next year. But, seriously as I stated above the officiating was poor (I could be using even stronger language). Especially the line judge on our end (west sideline of the HDC). This pathetic excuse for a USSF ref (sadly all USSF refs are bad) could hardly keep up with last man and that flurry around the box just before the end of the 1st half had many RSL players offsides in the 1st two shots before Beckermans shot off the post. I am happy that the Galaxy one but these refs were doing neither team any favors by calling a clean match. At one point I found myself yelling out that I would pay this guy 1K to just keep up with last man! Sad that the MLS cannot get away from using USSF officials and begin to negotiate and hire its own group of refs.
    I can only pray that there will be a decent officiating group for the final (whatever one can call decent in the USSF ranks). Go Galaxy!

  61. Gnarls says:

    He’s pushing 30 and yes, he’s American. I’ve seen two birthplaces listed: Lake Forest, CA and Grants Pass, OR. That said, I believe he’s been capped for Puerto Rico… oddly.

  62. ViperLAG says:

    Saunders is 30 and is American.
    Best backup in the league. Will make for an interesting off season if the Galaxy keep Rickets and Saunders. I am guessing that Saunders will become our #1 next season and Ricketts will either play backup or move on. Ricketts is too injury prone these past couple of seasons and Brian Perk our 3rd goalie is a decent backup, hell he even blocked a few PKs against Man City friendly. We always have Magee as our 3rd backup!!! Remember San Jose???

  63. RB says:

    He’s 30, but if you can believe the Wiki link on him, “In 2008, Saunders made his debut with the Puerto Rican national team, and is now considered to have Puerto Rican sporting nationality”.

  64. CMac says:

    And that IS good news. Getting a CCL berth was my real wish for the last couple months of the season, once it became apparent that we couldn’t challenge LA for the SS. Would have been great to earn a spot by getting to the MLS cup final, but LA has shown all year that they can play, and they earned it last night.
    Thanks guys, and good luck in the final!

  65. The 10 says:

    “Shoved”, Really? Wouldn’t that mean Williams’ arms were extended? Never happened. Maybe brush or bump, but shove? Sure, tell yourself whatever you need to justify the, shall we say, embellishment on Gonzales’ part.

    He was in the air 3 inches. It’s not like he has a 40″ vertical leap.

  66. Gnarls says:

    I saw it with my own eyes from 20 feet away. Anyone with a decent vantage point saw. Those who didn’t see it were either watching on ESPN or willingly ignorant.

  67. The 10 says:

    And you’re not wearing galaxy colored goggles right? Is that why the Ian Drake thought it was a questionable (weak @$$) call too, because he’s willingly ignorant?

  68. Gnarls has depth perception issues says:

    20 feet away, really? So you were on the field?

  69. Matt says:

    I’m thinking of putting money on the Dynamo winning. I’m sure the payout will be pretty good as most people will assume the Galaxy will win easily. I think Houston have a chance though.

  70. Supsam says:

    oh! so mexico isnt part of this footballing world?

  71. VADCUfan says:

    I’m afraid I wouldn’t want either Donovan or Beckham on DCU. The style you guys play is effective, but kinda dull game in and game out. Sooo many set piece goals and long balls even when you have the best team in the league. Early goal plus bunkerball equals 90+% of the LAG games I’ve seen this year, and quite frankly that’s not the style I enjoy seeing from the most visible and marketed franchise in the league.

  72. VADCUfan says:

    Uh, on setpieces I would say they’re pretty damn close. In open play Beckham seems to have the edge, but their effectiveness relative to their salary does not come close.