German Alegria / LA Galaxy

Recap: Galaxy drive to MLS Cup with 3-1 win over RSL

CARSON, Calif. - Mike Magee and Robbie Keane scored second-half goals to lift the LA Galaxy to a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center on Sunday, sending the Galaxy through to MLS Cup '11.

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The Galaxy will play Houston at The Home Depot Center on Nov. 20, becoming the third team to play an MLS Cup at home, and the first since New England hosted MLS Cup '02.

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Despite the seemingly comfortable scoreline, the result did not come without a struggle.

Robbie Russell nearly put an early goal away off a corner kick as he knocked a bouncing ball on goal just five minutes in, but the shot hit Galaxy 'keeper Josh Saunders in the chest and RSL were turned away.

That signaled the Claret-and-Cobalt’s early intent, but after 15 minutes of dominance, they allowed the Galaxy to creep back into the contest.

And true to form, LA pushed through that opening to take a 1-0 lead. Andy Williams was whistled for a penalty in the 21st minute after he pushed Omar Gonzalez from behind as Gonzalez attempted a header from point-blank range.

Landon Donovan stepped to the spot and, unlike the last time he took a penalty against Nick Rimando - in the shootout at the end of the 2009 MLS Cup – he buried his chance.

Alvaro Saborio answered less than two minutes later, though, as the match went back to level terms. Javier Morales lifted a corner kick to the far post, and defender Jamison Olave lost his man and headed on goal. Saborio showed his natural poacher’s instincts, drifting in front of Todd Dunivant and easily heading the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-1.

Keane had a pair of chances to put the Galaxy back in front but he hit the post in the 32nd minute and curled a shot wide of the goal in the 43rd minute after some nifty footwork.

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RSL pressured the Galaxy goal and nearly took the lead heading into the intermission, but Kyle Beckerman's shot banged off the post in first-half stoppage time after a scrum in front of goal.

The second half began with more fireworks. Will Johnson came up with a save in the 52nd minute on a Galaxy counterattack, as Keane found Chad Barrett alone on the far post. Barrett’s header was labeled for the back of the net, but it bounced off Johnson's face and away from danger.

Eventually LA took the upper hand and began to tilt the field. They finally took the lead as Magee punched in a header from point-blank range in the 58th minute. The midfielder smashed the header past Rimando after Beckham curled in a trademark cross to the back post, marking the third time in three games the two have hooked up for a goal.

Fabian Espindola nearly answered right away, though, but his spectacular, twisting attempt just one minute later rattled the crossbar and bounced out.

With RSL pushing numbers forward to look for the equalizer, they began leaving gaps for the Galaxy counterattack to exploit. That gave Keane room to put the game away in the 68th minute when he knocked in a goal on a counterattack after a feed from Donovan.

RSL made some late attacking subs, and drew a flurry of top-notch saves out of Saunders, but just couldn’t break through.

The victory also gives the Galaxy their second MLS Cup appearance in three years, and their league-record seventh overall.

Scoring Summary:
LA -- Landon Donovan 2 (penalty kick) 23
RSL -- Alvaro Saborio 3 (Jamison Olave 1, Javier Morales 3) 25
LA -- Mike Magee 3 (David Beckham 3, Robbie Keane 1) 58
LA -- Robbie Keane 1 (Landon Donovan 1) 68 

Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell (Ned Grabavoy 70), Jamison Olave (Tony Beltran 82), Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert, Andy Williams (Luis Gil 75), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio.

Substitutes Not Used: Yordany Alvarez, Paulo Araujo Jr., Nat Borchers, Kyle Reynish.

LA Galaxy -- Josh Saunders, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant, Landon Donovan, David Beckham (Michael Stephens 89), Juninho, Mike Magee, Chad Barrett (Chris Birchall 63), Robbie Keane.

Substitutes Not Used: Paolo Cardozo, Adam Cristman, Frankie Hejduk, Dasan Robinson, Donovan Ricketts.

Misconduct Summary:
LA -- Juninho (caution; Reckless Foul) 56
RSL -- Javier Morales (caution; Reckless Tackle) 70
LA -- Sean Franklin (caution; Delaying a Restart) 93+ 

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey; Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Attendance: 23,437
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-57-degrees