December 1, 2012
GOING OUT IN STYLE
Donovan scores winning PK, Beckham finishes Galaxy career with title
By Michael Lewis
|Landon Donovan scored the game-winning penalty kick as the LA Galaxy won their second straight MLS Cup.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CARSON, Calif. -- If this was Landon Donovan's final game as a pro soccer player, he could not have picked a more fitting way to end his star-studded career.
Not only did the 30-year-old midfielder leave the Home Depot Center as an MLS Cup champion for a record-tying fifth time, he scored the game-winning goal on one of his patented penalty kicks before a soldout 30,510 Home Depot Center.
Donovan's penalty kick, past goalkeeper Tally Hall, broke a 1-1 deadlock to boost the Galaxy to a 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the 17th edition of Major League Soccer's championship game on Saturday.
Robbie Keane added a stoppage time penalty kick of his own to add to LA's spoils after goalkeeper Tally Hall knocked him down in the penalty area.
Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, playing in his final game with the Galaxy, left as a champion after six years with the club.
Donovan's goal climaxed a four-minute rally by the hosts, who turned a one-goal deficit into its second consecutive MLS Cup triumph over the same team.
The goal also gave Donovan 146 career MLS goals -- 124 during the regular season and 22 in the playoffs, one more than former D.C. United standout and MetroStars midfielder-forward Jaime Moreno.
Donovan also walked out of the stadium with his fifth MLS crown, adding to championships earned with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2001 and 2003 and titles with the Galaxy in 2005 and 2011. He tied former MetroStars defender Jeff Agoos for the most championships by a player.
Opportunities could not have come much better for the Galaxy in the 13th minute as the team's three designated players combined on a near goal.
David Beckham, from the back, found Keane alone on a long pass on the left flank. With one defender back, Keane came in on Hall. The Ireland international set a square pass to an onrushing Donovan, who somehow placed his 10-yard shot wide right of the mark.
LA midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson had a close chance in the 20th minute as he ran onto a back pass to Hall. The keeper got to the ball just before Wilhelmsson, who claimed he was fouled by Bobby Boswell, but no foul was called.
Four minutes later, an open Juninho sent a shot from distance wide left of Hall and the Houston goal.
The Dynamo made the Galaxy sweat a bit in the 26th minute when Kofi Sarkodie beat Mike Magee on the right side of the penalty area and smashed a shot that goalkeeper Josh Saunders managed to bat away for a corner kick. Nothing came of the ensuing spot kick.
As the opening half wore on, Houston slowed its pace and intensity, sending only four or five players into the attack. But even that strategy paid off for the first goal of the match.
Midfielder Adam Moffat sent a long ball down the right flank that Calen Carr caught up to and beat Sanders on the near post from six yards, stunning the Galaxy and the highly partisan crowd.
Three minutes into the second half, LA thought it had equalized on a Keane goal from a difficult angle from three yards out on the right side, but he was ruled to be offside.
Carr tried to double his output and lead in the 56th minute as Will Bruin sent a spot-on left wing cross to the Houston forward in the penalty area. However, Carr's point-blank header had little force on it and Saunders had no trouble making the save.
The game turned during a four-minute span.
The Galaxy equalized in the 61st minute as Omar Gonzalez, off a Juninho cross, beat two defenders on a header and beat Hall from seven yards to the far right post.
Minutes after having a goal off a Beckham corner kick denied due to a foul on Gonzalez, the Galaxy grabbed the lead in the 65th minute. While trying to clear the ball during a scramble in the penalty area, Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark was called for a handball.
Donovan, doing his customary prayer prior to his spot kick, fired the ball into the lower right corner to give the hosts a 2-1 advantage.