November 13, 2009 – The 2009 Western Conference Final fittingly came down to the two teams tied atop the conference in points over the course of the season, LA and Houston. A goal by Andrew Hainault, which could have proven the game-winner, was controversially called off by referee Terry Vaughn in the 80th minute. In extra time, the Galaxy converted through Greg Berhalter (103rd minute) and a Landon Donovan PK (109th minute) to win 2-0. Multiple light outages plagued the game throughout the night causing significant stoppages to the game.
What's at stake?
Top spot in the Western Conference for starters. Last year, both teams were tied atop the conference on points but the Galaxy had home field advantage due to a tiebreaker. With such a small margin separating both teams last year, the importance of a head-to-head matchup cannot be underestimated. After its defeat of Salt Lake, if Houston wins it will send a definitive message to the rest of the league that the Dynamo will be in contention throughout the year despite the offseason player departures.
Heroes & Villains:
Luis Landin and Dominic Oduro against Omar Gonzalez and Donovan Ricketts – With Cam Weaver suffering a setback in training this week and Brian Ching out for at least the next month, the Houston Dynamo forward production will have to come from the two remaining forwards on the roster, Landin and Oduro. Both have already contributed in 2010 with Landin drawing the second penalty against Real Salt Lake and Oduro registering a nice assist on the lone Dynamo goal against Dallas. However, forwards get paid to score goals. Gonzalez and Ricketts helped turn the league’s most vulnerable defenses in 2008 into one of the stingiest in 2009. In the team’s first two games, the Galaxy have given up zero goals and Ricketts hasn’t had much to do.
Sean Franklin against Brad Davis – The Dynamo offense seems to be at its most lethal down the left side through Davis and defender Mike Chabala. With his two penalty kick conversions, the midfielder has an impressive seven goals and thirteen assists in his last 28 regular season games. Franklin came back from injury last season and was one of the few Galaxy players to play every minute of the postseason, helping the Galaxy to the championship game.
Stat that makes you go "Hmm ..."
The Dynamo failed to score a single goal against the LA Galaxy last year in three games; a 0-0 tie at Robertson, a 1-0 regular season road loss, and a 2-0 loss in the Western Conference finals.
He said it:
Pat Onstad: “We’re excited to go out against a fellow undefeated and for us it’s a good test early in the year. We have a pretty good rivalry with them dating back to the San Jose days. There are a few teams in the league we try to measure ourselves up to and LA is one of them, especially right now.”