CARSON, Calif. – The 2010 Los Angeles Galaxy weren’t equal parts good and bad – the good far outweighed the bad. However, the team’s last moments of 2010 were by far the club’s low point of the year as the season came crashing down one game short of the ultimate goal and the ultimate prize.
Still, the season was not a total washout. After all, the Galaxy didn't leave the year empty-handed as they claimed the Supporters’ Shield title and had one of the best regular seasons in MLS history.
Best moment of the year
The Fourth of July was an appropriate date for the return of two World Cup veterans as both Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan returned to the Galaxy after helping the US reach the Round of 16 in South Africa. Buddle punctuated the homecoming with an early goal in a 3-1 victory over Seattle, perhaps giving credence to Galaxy fans’ disappointment that Buddle didn't see as much playing time at the World Cup as they’d hoped for.
After Marvin Chavez buried a ball in the back of the net to extend FC Dallas’ lead to 3-0 in the Western Conference Championship, the Galaxy’s season was, for all intents and purposes, over. An otherwise standout season had fallen apart in the span of about 45 minutes as FCD put three goals past Donovan Ricketts and punched their ticket to MLS Cup 2010, right on the Galaxy's home turf.
Aside from welcoming Buddle and Donovan back from South Africa, the Fourth of July match provided the team’s ultimate firework of 2010. Early in the second half, Juninho unloaded a 30-yard rocket on goal that sailed over Seattle’s Kasey Keller and dipped into the back of the net.
WATCH: Juninho's blast brings the HDC to its feet
The Galaxy had a 1-0 lead at Columbus in May when Steven Lenhart found himself alone in front of the goal. Lenhart powered a header on frame but Ricketts extended himself and parried the ball over the crossbar. The goal kept the Crew from scoring and the Galaxy eventually made the lead stand as Ricketts picked up his sixth shutout in the club’s sixth road game.
WATCH: Ricketts' point-blank tip on Lenhart
Team MVP: Edson Buddle
Buddle led the Galaxy with 17 goals and, with each goal he scored, his team was able to play the game they wanted to and dictate terms. LA were 11-1-1 when Buddle scored, the lone loss coming against the eventual MLS Cup champions Colorado in October. Buddle scored on headers, long-range shots and tap-ins as he fought tooth and nail for each one, helping set a strong physical tone for the club.
Watch: Buddle's blast finds back of the net
Best Newcomer: Juninho
On loan from Brazil, the former defensive midfielder made a strong and seemingly effortless transition to attacking midfielder. Juninho took time to adjust to not only Major League Soccer but to life in the United States – he’d never before lived outside of his native Brazil – but was a vital cog in the Galaxy’s midfield throughout the season.
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