Turning Points of 2012: Going ahead for good in MLS Cup

Landon Donovan penalty kick puts the Galaxy ahead for good in MLS Cup

The LA Galaxy battled through adversity all season long and MLS Cup 2012 was no different. But just as they had throughout the year, the Galaxy displayed the will to overcome.

The Galaxy entered the 2012 MLS Cup as favorites against the Houston Dynamo, but LA were unable to get on the board early. In the 13th minute, a lofty cross from David Beckham put Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan on the break, but Donovan’s right-footed shot went just wide of the post with Tally Hall beaten. With the Galaxy unable to find the back of the net, the raucous crowd at The Home Depot Center was silenced in the 44th minute when the Dynamo’s Calen Carr cut through LA’s defense to put the Eastern Conference Champions up 1-0 at the end of the first half. 

Omar Gonzalez's game-tying goal

At the break, the Galaxy remained composed with head coach Bruce Arena telling his group that they needed just a single goal to get back into the game. Once the second half began, LA immediately put Houston on their heels as they pressed for an equalizer, even having a Robbie Keane strike ruled out for offside. The goal finally came in the 61st minute when a diagonal cross by Juninho found defender Omar Gonzalez who smashed a header past Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall. The Galaxy thought that they had gone in front two minutes later, but another Keane goal was negated by a referee Silviu Petrescu who whistled a foul on Gonzalez in the build up.

With momentum clearly in their favor at this point, the Galaxy would not be denied and soon found themselves in front for the first time. Once again it was a set piece that led to the breakthrough as David Beckham’s clipped service to the far post picked out Gonzalez. The ensuing header set off a scramble in the box that ended when Petrescu whistled for a penalty after a Mike Magee bicycle kick caught the outstretched arm of Houston’s Ricardo Clark. Hoping to shake off his displeasure of his miss earlier in the game, Donovan stepped up to take the penalty and the Galaxy captain easily slotted it past Hall sending The HDC crowd into jubilation. 

LA put the match out of reach in stoppage time when Hall brought down Keane in the penalty area to set up another penalty. Many wondered whether the kick would go to David Beckham—who was playing his final game for the club—but Keane stepped up immediately, easily beating Hall to provide the capper to LA’s second straight title.

In 2013, LA will go for an unprecedented third straight MLS Cup title and the club’s fifth. Will it happen again? Only time will tell. 

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com