CARSON, Calif. (Wednesday, November 9, 2011) – For an MLS-record seventh time, the LA Galaxy will play for MLS Cup, when they take on the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center on Sunday, November 20. That game, which kicks off at 6 p.m. (PT) will be shown live nationally on ESPN and Galavision as well as in 150 countries around the world.
The Galaxy reached this season’s MLS Cup by beating Real Salt Lake 3-1 at home in the Western Conference Championship on Sunday night behind goals from Landon Donovan, Mike Magee and Robbie Keane. (HIGHLIGHTS) The Dynamo, who will be looking for their third MLS Cup championship, beat Sporting Kansas City 2-0 on the road on Sunday in the Eastern Conference Championship to qualify for their third MLS Cup in six years.
The Galaxy and Dynamo split their two meetings this season, with the Galaxy winning 1-0 on May 25 behind a Landon Donovan first half penalty kick and a Donovan Ricketts shutout at The Home Depot Center. The Dynamo returned the favor in the final game of the regular season, beating the Galaxy 3-1 on October 23 in a game that saw the Galaxy start just one player that has started in any of the club’s first three postseason games this year. MLS Cup 2011 will be just the second time that Galaxy and Dynamo meet in the postseason, with LA beating the Dynamo 2-0 at The Home Depot Center in the 2009 Western Conference Championship.
Galaxy Injury Report
OUT – Sean Alvarado (Right Knee – Surgery), Leonardo (Right Knee – Surgery)
DOUBTFUL – None
QUESTIONABLE – David Beckham (Back Spasms), Gregg Berhalter (Right Foot – Sprain), Bryan Jordan (Left Middle Finger Tendon – Rupture)
PROBABLE – None
MLS CUP ARRIVES IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ON WEDNESDAY: MLS Cup 2011 activities kick off in Southern California at 11 a.m. on Wednesday when the Philip F. Anschutz championship trophy, which will be presented to the winner of MLS Cup 2011, makes its official arrival into the greater Los Angeles area.
The trophy, which was created by Tiffany & Co., will arrive with a police escort at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier accompanied by former MLS Cup winners and Los Angeles soccer legends Alexi Lalas and Mauricio Cienfuegos, riding in style atop a 2012 Volkswagen Eos convertible with Continental Tires.
The Trophy Arrival Celebration kicks off ten days of public activities and special events leading up to MLS Cup 2011, which will be played on Sunday, November 20 at The Home Depot Center. This year marks the fifth time MLS Cup will be played in Southern California, with The Home Depot Center hosting the game in 2003, 2004 and 2008 as well as this year, while the Rose Bowl hosted MLS Cup in 1998.
ALL TO PLAY FOR: The LA Galaxy are in MLS Cup for a record seventh time, which is twice more than any other team in the history of the league. Against Houston next Sunday, the Galaxy will be in search of their third championship and their first in Southern California. The Galaxy won MLS Cup in 2002 and 2005 while they fell in the league championship game four times, losing in 1996 and 1999 to D.C. United, 2001 to the San Jose Earthquakes and in 2009 to Real Salt Lake on penalties.
The Galaxy’s two MLS Cup titles leave them tied with Houston and San Jose, who relocated to Houston following the 2005 season, for the second most league titles behind D.C. United’s four.
Houston won MLS Cup in 2006 and 2007, beating New England on penalties at Pizza Hut Park in 2006 and then beating the Revolution again in regulation at RFK Stadium a year later.
A POSSIBLE CLEAN SWEEP: If either the Galaxy or Dynamo win MLS Cup in regulation or in extra time, they will become the first team to win all four of their postseason games since MLS adopted the current playoff format in 2003. The Galaxy swept New York in their Conference Semifinal Series, winning 1-0 on the road and 2-1 at home before beating Real Salt Lake 3-1 in the Western Conference Championship on Sunday. The Dynamo are also a perfect 3-0-0 in the playoffs this season, winning 2-1 on the road against Philadelphia before claiming a 1-0 win over them in the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Series for a 3-1 win on aggregate. They then beat Sporting Kansas City 2-0 on the road in the Eastern Conference Championship to advance to MLS Cup.
The closest any team has gone to pulling off the complete postseason sweep was the 2005 Galaxy and the 2008 Columbus Crew, who won three of their four playoff games while drawing the other. Every other MLS Cup champion has either lost a game or needed penalties to advance at some point in their run to the championship.
In the first 15 years that it has been contested, MLS Cup has gone to extra time seven times, with two of those going to penalties. The Galaxy were involved in five of those seven games, beating the New England Revolution 1-0 in extra time in both the 2002 and 2005 MLS Cups, losing to D.C. United 3-2 in the inaugural MLS Cup in 1996 and then falling 2-1 to San Jose in extra time of MLS Cup 2001. Last year, the Colorado Rapids beat FC Dallas 2-1 in extra time.
At MLS Cup 2009, the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake were tied 1-1 after 120 minutes of play before RSL emerged victorious 5-4 on penalties. The only other time MLS Cup was decided on penalties was in 2006 when Houston beat New England 4-3 on penalties after being tied 1-1 after 120 minutes of play.
LEAGUE LEADERS: David Beckham and Mike Magee are each tied for the MLS postseason lead in assists and goals respectively heading into next week’s MLS Cup. Beckham and Magee have combined for three goals so far in the postseason, with Magee tallying once in each of the three playoff games that the Galaxy have played so far. Magee is tied with Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio for the league lead in postseason goals while his RSL teammate Javier Morales is tied with Beckham for the postseason lead in assists.
Magee, who had two goals in 10 career postseason games heading into this season, is the first Galaxy player to score in three straight playoff games since Landon Donovan did in 2009, scoring in both legs of LA’s Western Conference Semifinal Series against Chivas USA and then again in the Western Conference Championship against Houston. If he can score once more in MLS Cup, Magee will become just the second player in club history to score a goal in four consecutive postseason games, joining Carlos Ruiz, who tallied a goal in each of LA’s final four playoff games in 2002 and then in both playoff games the club played in 2006 for a league record six-game goal scoring streak.
STINGY SHOT STOPPERS: Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders and his Houston counterpart Tally Hall enter MLS Cup with the two lowest goals against average amongst goalkeepers in the MLS Cup Playoffs this season. Saunders, who had never started a postseason game before this year, has faced 12 shots on goal, making 10 saves and allowing just two goals for a 0.67 goals against average. Saunders, who finished second in MLS with a 0.93 GAA, has allowed one goal in each of the Galaxy’s last two games, though he is yet to allow a second half goal so far this postseason.
Tally Hall, who became the Dynamo’s first choice goalkeeper this season and started all 34 of their regular season games, has allowed just one goal in three playoff games this season for Houston. Originally drafted by the Galaxy in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, though he never signed with the club, Hall has not given up a goal in the last 263 minutes of action after being beaten by the first shot he faced in his playoff career, against Philadelphia on October 30. During that streak, Hall has stopped all 18 of the shots on goal that he has faced.
BACK IN MLS CUP: Of the 30 players currently on the Galaxy roster, 13 of them have previously appeared in MLS Cup. Of that group, 12 of them played for the Galaxy in MLS Cup 2009 against Real Salt Lake, while the other, veteran defender Frankie Hejduk, captained the Columbus Crew to their first-ever league championship in 2008, beating the New York Red Bulls 3-1 at The Home Depot Center. Of those 13 players, only Landon Donovan and Todd Dunivant have appeared in MLS Cup on more than one occasion with Dunivant playing in MLS Cup 2005 and 2009, while Donovan played in MLS Cup 2001 and 2003 with the San Jose Earthquakes as well as MLS Cup 2005 and 2009 with the Galaxy. His three goals in MLS Cup, one in 2001 and two in 2003, are the most in MLS history and he is one of just two players, along with former Galaxy teammate Alecko Eskandarian, to have scored multiple goals in an MLS Cup.
In addition to Donovan, Hejduk and Mike Magee have each also scored in MLS Cup, with Hejduk scoring Columbus’ third and final goal in MLS Cup 2008 and Magee scoring just before halftime for the Galaxy in MLS Cup 2009.
TEN FOR TEN: Sunday’s win over Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Championship was the Galaxy’s 10th postseason game since the 2009 season, which are the most in MLS in that time. Five players; David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez and Mike Magee have each started all 10 of those games with Donovan and Franklin each playing every minute of all 10 games.
That group has combined for 11 goals and nine assists with the rest of the team combining for a total of four goals. Two of those goals came from Edson Buddle, who started all seven postseason games the club played in 2009 and 2010 while the others came from Gregg Berhalter, against Houston in the 2009 Western Conference Championship and Robbie Keane, who scored LA’s third goal on Sunday.
In the 10 playoff games that the Galaxy have played since 2009, Landon Donovan and Mike Magee have each scored five goals while Omar Gonzalez has one. David Beckham leads the team with six assists in that time while Donovan has added two and Gonzalez has tallied one.
THIRD CHAMPIONSHIP AT STAKE: The coach of whichever team wins MLS Cup will go down in history as the first coach in league history to win MLS Cup three times. Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, who became the all-time leader in postseason wins with 21 on Sunday against Salt Lake, won MLS Cup in 1996 and 1997 with D.C. United. His counterpart, Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear, won MLS Cup in 2006 and 2007 with the Dynamo, leading them to a pair of championship wins over the New England Revolution. Kinnear was also an assistant coach with the San Jose Earthquakes when they won MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003.
No other MLS coaches or teams have ever won back-to-back championships as both Arena and Kinnear have.
NEED TO KNOW
LOOKING FOR MORE UPDATES?: If you are looking for continuous updates from the Galaxy all week long, be sure to visit the club’s official websites www.lagalaxy.com and www.lagalaxyfutbol.com. The Galaxy can also be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lagalaxy and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lagalaxy.