CARSON, Calif. – Thirteen of the Galaxy’s 30 players previously had appeared in MLS Cup, but only three of them were on the team when the club won their last championship in 2005.
Landon Donovan, Todd Dunivant and Josh Saunders all were on the roster that season and said the latest title, a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center on Sunday, was especially gratifying.
“As an athlete it’s an unbelievable accomplishment to be able to win a championship in your own stadium. It makes it better,” said Donovan, who scored the game-winning goal in the 72nd minute on assists from David Beckham and Robbie Keane. “To do it in your own stadium is really, really special.
WATCH: Landon Donovan Postgame Interview
“I’m going to remember this forever.”
Saunders, who took over in net for injured starter Donovan Ricketts and played a career-high 19 games during the regular season, will remember it too, but for a different reason.
He dropped to his knees after the final whistle and couldn’t help but think back to 2009 in Seattle, where the Galaxy had just lost to Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks.
Saunders finished that game in goal after Ricketts suffered a broken hand early in the second half.
“I was thinking the exact same thing,” he said. “You go from the range of emotions starting from 2009 to now. You figure it’s a buildup. You start at the bottom and now you’re at the top.
“I don’t even have words to describe how I feel.”
He also found it difficult to compare the team’s latest championship to its last one in 2005, a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.
“I contributed a lot more to this one, obviously,” grinned Saunders, who did not play in the 2005 Final. “You look at what we’ve done this year, and I think this is the best team in MLS history. To go through (CONCACAF) Champions League, to win the Supporters’ Shield, to have all these points, all these shutouts, to come in and win MLS Cup and deal with the things we had to, it goes to show you how special this team is.”
Dunivant couldn’t agree more.
“This one is sweet. I was so hungry for it,” he said. “We felt like for three years now we had a very good chance to win the championship, and we’ve come up short. Tonight everything culminated for us and it was a magical season.
“This team was so dominant from start to finish. What this team did was incredible. I’m so proud of these guys. I’ll never forget this.”
Dunivant did say the 2005 and 2011 Galaxy teams had one thing in common.
“I think both teams had a belief,” he said. “And my ’03 team as well with the Earthquakes. We had a belief that we could win and there was something special. When it came down to that final game, you’ve got to make a play. You’ve got to make a lot of plays. And we did that.
“That’s what it takes to be a champion. It’s not just scoring the goals, it’s all the little stuff, all the little plays, all the details.”