Los Angeles 1 Houston 0
CARSON, CA – The LA Galaxy spent all night on Sunday looking to land a decisive blow en route to a historic MLS championship, and finally got the moment from all three heavy hitters on The Home Depot Center marquee.
Landon Donovan finished off a gorgeous buildup through fellow Designated Players David Beckham and Robbie Keane in the 72nd minute, pushing the Galaxy to a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo in MLS Cup 2011 and gift-wrapping the third league championship in franchise history.
The moment, which played out in front of 30,281 fans that braved uncharacteristically wet and cool conditions in Southern California, also punctuated one of the best seasons for any team in league history. The Galaxy won the Supporters’ Shield during the regular season and steadily drove their way through the postseason, capped by an impressively solid performance against a Dynamo team that struggled to keep pace all night.
The win also gave head coach Bruce Arena the third MLS title of his storied career, and likely exorcised any demons from the last time the club was in the title game. That showing ended in a loss to Real Salt Lake in penalty kicks in 2009, a moment the club harped on all week as they carried the weight of heavy favorites into Sunday night.
But this one played out vastly different than the 2009 loss, and was summed up on the game-winning goal. The play began with a nifty flick header from Beckham to a surging Keane, who drifted to the middle of the field roughly 25 yards out and patiently waited for the chance to strike.
Then came the onrushing Donovan, who threaded his way back the Houston back line and latched onto pitch-perfect Keane pass before coolly slotting a right-footed shot just past Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall and into the back of the net.