By Gary Montgomery, BVN Sports –
Carson - In front of a high energy full house and a national ESPN audience, the Los Angeles Galaxy completed a clean sweep at home, by beating Real Salt Lake 3-1.
The Galaxy will host the MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center, against the Houston Dynamo, on November 20th.
Coach Bruce Arena knew the Western Conference Final would not be a walk over. Real Salt Lake, known for it’s strong transition game, would be formidable. The Galaxy players, riding an undefeated home winning streak, admitted to the pressure of winning at home and getting through these decisive matches.
Interrupted by U.S. National Team commitments, injuries and the grind of the lengthy MLS season, the Los Angeles Galaxy, as a team, take care of business when it counts.
Key Galaxy players like Landon Donovan (Redlands East Valley H.S.) and international soccer icon, David Beckham garnered their share of the headlines, but the Galaxy would benefit by the feet of some of it’s go to role players as well.
Landon Donovan buried a penalty kick into the net and the Galaxy took a 1-0 lead halfway through the first half. The Galaxy were keeping their shape on the field, forcing RSL into the middle. RSL’s Alvaro Saborio took advantage of what was given and abruptly tied the game two minutes later.
The 1-1 tie would hold until halftime. The second half would bring a wide open game that featured quality saves from keepers Nick Rimando (Montclair) and the Galaxy’s Josh Saunders.
Saunders, filling in for the injured Donovan Ricketts, has been solid all season. His elevated play at goaltending has been an added plus to the solid roster. That’s saying a lot for anyone replacing Ricketts who was the ”Keeper of the Year” last season.
It would be a Mike Magee header in the 58th minute that would put the Galaxy ahead. Rimando had no chance, as the ball was crossed with precision, from the right foot of David Beckham. Magee took the cross onto his forehead, directly in front of the RSL keeper and delivered.
Real Salt Lake forwards continued to test Saunders throughout the second half, but the Galaxy defenders were up to the task. Robbie Kean gave the Galaxy a two goal margin by scoring in the 70th minute to seal the 3-1 victory.
With their home winning streak intact, the Galaxy players stepped up to the podium as Landon Donovan hoisted the Western Conference Champion’s trophy.
This match was their third postseason victory in eight days. The two-week break will suit them well, as they prepare for the Houston Dynamo and the battle for the MLS Cup on November 20th.