CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy began the season poor going 3-8-2 in the first 13 matches, but finished as strong as they qualified for the postseason, eventually charging to the MLS Cup Final.
Perhaps then, it was fitting that LA would win MLS Cup by facing even more adversity, this time due to an early match miss by Landon Donovan in the 13th minute and a Calen Carr goal just a minute away from full time to put them down 1-0 into the half. As was the case throughout the season, timely play from Omar Gonzalez proved to be part of LA's saving grace as Gonzalez powered home a diagonal ball by Juninho in the 60th minute to level the match. Five minutes later, Mike Magee earned a penalty kick on a Ricardo Clark handball that set up a Donovan penalty. LA would add a third in stoppage time off a Robbie Keane penalty kick to add an exclamation point to the victory.
After a rocky start to the match -- and the year -- it was a fitting end.
"It was the perfect microcosm, the whole thing really came full circle really," said defender Todd Dunivant. "we dealt with the adversity again and came out at halftime. That was a goal that could break your back and that's what happened in the Seattle series...with this team at halftime, we've been through it enough to know that we did well enough in the first half and had some good chances, but were a bit unlucky because it was a good run by Calen Carr and a good finish,we came out and we responded like we did all year."
Although the win was analogous to LA's run, head coach Bruce Arena admitted that LA's run began after LA's trip to Washington, D.C. and the White House.
"When the season ended last year, we had an endless tour of obligations and we couldn't put the 2011 season behind us and I think that it finally came to closure when we went to the White House in May. I just said...let's put it past us and now we have to start putting this behind us," said Arena. "The guys responded well, but oddly enough in June, we still had a horrible run, but you could see things were getting better. There's an important game in Salt Lake, which was a character test and we kind of got that back then we just literally battled everyday."
After those key moments, Arena set forth calculating the proper formula that would ultimately make the Galaxy MLS Cup winners.
"We just laid it out to the guys and one thing, our local media was convincing me everyday that it was impossible to make the playoffs and I showed our guys the math. They told me that you're freaking crazy and it can't be done so I laid out an equation for our guys that with 17 games left, we had to get 27 to 30 points to make the playoffs," said Arena. "We ended up getting 34, which is more than anyone had. We had a focus about it, but the great part was that we started our first game playing Philadelphia at home and we lost. We had actually had 34 points in 16 games, but we made it clear that was the target. We reminded them everyday that we had to chip away at it and we managed to do it, but it was a real focus on a part of the whole team and the whole organization.
"It was a test of character, obviously, a test in leadership. I could write a pretty good book with a five star general now on leadership. I've been through the wars this year," said Arena. "It's really just, we have enough talent to win games, you just have to really, do the best job that you can to maximize performance. We focused on that, did it and got it done."
CARSON, Calif. -- Much speculation has followed Landon Donovan over the past few weeks and much will center around him now the LA Galaxy's season has concluded, but Donovan admitted that the MLS Cup title as well as some added family news has provided him some much needed perspective as he prepares to contemplate his future.
Donovan played a key role in LA's 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo, but the night did not start as planned as he missed a shot from close range in the 13th minute that could have given LA an early lead. However, Donovan gave LA the go-ahead-goal in the 65th minute as he slotted home a penalty kick to seal LA's win.
After his fourth MLS Cup title, Donovan was quick to admit that the win provided some perspective as he contemplates his future during the postgame press conference.
"It's been a long two years, for all of us. It's not a woe-is-me story, but I have to listen to my heart and my gut and right now my gut says to get away for a while," said Donovan. "I had a really nice moment where my sister just had a baby and she came down on the field and he was sleeping on her, and it sort of puts it all in perspective and makes me realize I want to be closer to my family for awhile and then figure out the soccer later."
A few notes from the LA Galaxy's 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo to secure MLS Cup 2012.
*David Beckham left the match in stoppage time, ending his six year career for the Galaxy.
*Donovan now has 146 MLS total goals in regular season (124) and postseason (22), breaking D.C. United forward Jaime Moreno's record of 145.
*Donovan is now tied with Jeff Agoos and Brian Mullan with five MLS Cups as a player.
*Bruce Arena has now won four MLS Cups, more than any other manager and is the first manager to win back to back titles for two different clubs.
*This is the first time that the LA Galaxy have won back-to-back titles.
*Omar Gonzalez was awarded the 2012 MLS Cup MVP award. He is the first defender to win the award.
Below are a few tweets from the celebration
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) December 2, 2012
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) December 2, 2012
MLS Cup is finally here and in a few hours, either the LA Galaxy or the Houston Dynamo will be crowned the champions of Major League Soccer for the 2012 season.
The Galaxy have the chance to win their fourth MLS Cup in franchise history and Bruce Arena has the chance to be the first coach to win four MLS Cups as well as first to win back-to-back titles with two different teams. If Houston wins, it will be Dominic Kinnear's third MLS Cup and he'd join Arena as the only coaches to win three MLS Cup titles.
*The match will be the final game for David Beckham with the LA Galaxy and on Thursday, he addressed the end of his Galaxy career.
*The head coach at the start of Beckham's time in MLS, Frank Yallop addressed the hoopla that surrounded Beckham's first year in MLS.
*Beckham will be matched up against the talented Brad Davis, who the Englishman is quick to label one of the "great" players in MLS.
*Despite the praise from Beckham, Davis was quick to say that Houston is not distracted by the fact the match is David Beckham's final game.
*There are no injury concerns for LA as Marcelo Sarvas has declared himself fit for tonight's match.
*Tommy Meyer will face off against his old friend Houston forward Will Bruin and in my feature of the week, I chronicle Meyer's rise from St. Louis to MLS Cup.
*During his press conference on Friday, Robbie Keane declared that he is incredibly pleased to be in Southern California and committed his future to the Galaxy.
*For your listening pleasure, listen to Joe Tutino's conversations with Bruce Arena and Edson Buddle in the latest editions of the All-Access Podcast.
*For a more general look at the game, read LAGalaxy.com staff writer Larry Morgan's preview of the match.
MATCH UPS TO WATCH:
ROBBIE KEANE VS. BOBBY BOSWELL
*For my money, the match up of the game, Boswell was fantastic against D.C. United in shutting down their attack, but he'll face Robbie Keane , who has scored five postseason goals to date.
DAVID BECKHAM'S SET PIECES VS. BRAD DAVIS' SET PIECES
Two of the finest strikers of a set piece in MLS, expect the game to turn based on a strike by one of these two.
TODD DUNIVANT VS. BONIEK GARCIA
Dunivant will have his hands full dealing with the talented Honduran who has been a nuisence for opposing defenses this year. Expect Dunivant to look to frustrate the Honduran with high pressure early and often.
BRUCE ARENA VS. DOMINIC KINNEAR
Arguably the two best head coaches in MLS history and the only coaches to win back-to-back MLS Cup titles. Kinnear was the last to do so in '06-'07 and he'll be eager to prevent Arena from going back-to-back for a second time.
PREDICTED LINEUP: Saunders; Franklin, Gonzalez, Meyer, Dunivant; Wilhelmsson, Juninho, Beckham, Magee; Donovan, Keane
The LA Galaxy will go for back-to-back MLS Cup titles this evening against the Houston Dynamo at 1:30 p.m.
LA will have their hands full with a much improved Dynamo side that boasts a number of weapons including Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis as well as tenacious midfielder Ricardo Clark. In my Three Points to the match, I break down how the Galaxy will be able to defeat Houston.
Check out my Three Points below...
We're just hours away from MLS Cup 2012 between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center
For those that are attending the game, which begins at 1:30 p.m. be sure to heed this important gameday information.
*Parking Lots opened at 7 a.m. and are expected to start filling up soon.
*Gates open at 11 a.m.
*Umbrellas are not allowed at The HDC so fans are encouraged to wear jackets depending on the weather.
*Fans who decide not to park at The HDC can park at South Bay Pavilion and Artesia Transit Center then travel to the stadium on special shuttles. The shuttles begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5:30 p.m.
CARSON, Calif. -- Make no mistake, Robbie Keane is loving his time in Los Angeles.
Keane has played a key role in the Galaxy's run to MLS Cup by tallying five goals n the postseason after finishing the regular season with 16 goals and nine assists en route to an MLS First XI selection. Ahead of his second straight final in less than two years, the Irish forward declared that he's pleased to be a member of the Galaxy.
"I'm really enjoying my time here, and as long as I keep enjoying myself and as long as I keep letting my football do the talking I'll be very happy to stay," said Keane. "I look forward to a number of years here.
"I'm very happy and very content here," Keane added. "When you're playing in a team like this and getting to championship finals every year, for me this is the second year in a row, so that certainly does help."
The Irishman was quick to admit that he has become so integrated with the Galaxy that he is not considering an offseason loan.
"It isn't something I've even thought about to be honest with you," he said. "My main focus now is tomorrow's game and let's see how I feel, but for now my first prerogative is the LA Galaxy and that will always be the case."
CARSON, Calif. -- Much of the talk around MLS Cup 2012 has centered around the fact that David Beckham will play his final game for MLS, but that talk has not reached the Houston Dynamo locker room.
When questioned about the role that Beckham has played in the growth of Major League Soccer in his six year stint on Friday, Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear was quick to shoot down any thought that Dynamo were at all distracted by Beckham's departure.
“No, we’re not talking about David Beckham’s last game," Kinnear said on Friday. “We’re not dumb. We’re not blind and deaf to what’s going on around us. But our talk tomorrow is about 1:55 local time getting ready to play against these guys, not what they’re doing after the game.”
One of the Dynamo players quick to agree with his head coach was midfielder Brad Davis, who received plenty of praise from Beckham a day earlier.
“We’re all happy and thankful for what David has done, but that’s not what makes the world go round,” said Davis. “I was playing here before he came here, and hopefully I’ll be playing after he leaves.”
Check out a video of Houston's press conference below
CARSON, Calif. -- With just hours left before MLS Cup, there were no changes for the LA Galaxy on their final injury report before Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo.
Meanwhile, on the Houston side, both Ricardo Clark and Calen Carr were removed from the list, giving Houston a clean bill of health.
The complete injury report is below...
LA GALAXY -- OUT: DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: DF A.J. DeLaGarza (L knee sprain)
HOUSTON DYNAMO -- NONE REPORTED
CARSON, Calif. -- Marcelo Sarvas has won two consecutive championships -- with Costa Rican side Alajuelense -- but the Brazilian midfielder is an injury question mark ahead of Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo.
In an interview with Futbol MLS on Thursday, Sarvas revealed that he was suffering from an ankle injury, but according to the Brazilian, he participated in full training on Friday afternoon in the club's final session before MLS Cup.
"It won't be a problem, I trained normal today without pain so I will be fit for tomorrow," said Sarvas. "I had luck that we had a long week to recover...everything is okay."
During the interview, Sarvas admitted that the club has already received their orders and are ready for the championship.
"I'm feeling great, it's just a few hours from the match," said Sarvas. "We had a nice training, everyone seems very happy and we're all concentrated and ready for the game."