- In a huge disappointment to fans of dreadlocks everywhere, no white men with dreads are likely to hoist the MLS Cup this year.
Los Angeles will host the Houston Dynamo for the 2011 MLS Cup on November 20, as both teams won their conference finals by a two goal margin last night. Unfortunately for Houston, the Galaxy remains undefeated at home in 2011.
The Galaxy struck first in its 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake in the 22nd minute of the Western Conference Final. Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez got fouled in the box and Landon Donovan converted the penalty with aplomb, putting to bed the memory of the loss to Real Salt Lake in the 2009 MLS Cup in a penalty shootout. The goal brought his career playoffs goal tally to 19. He had the all-time record before the playoffs began and now just keeps extending it.
In swift answer, RSL equalized two minutes later, when Jamison Olave headed the ball to Alvaro Saborio, who himself headed it in.
David Beckham helped put Los Angeles ahead after halftime, connecting with Mike Magee for the third time in three playoff matches. Once again, Beckham delivered the ball right into the goalmouth with his corner kick and Magee headed it in. The goal was the third goal of the playoffs for Magee, who scored five during regular season. No one in Los Angeles is complaining that he waited until the playoffs to hit his stride.
Hitting the post proved a popular pastime. Kyle Beckerman nailed the post in first half stoppage time, Robbie Keane did so a couple times, and Fabian Espindola hopped on the bandwagon just a minute after Magee’s goal, nearly replicating the first quick-response equalizer that would have made it 2-2.
However, Los Angeles killed off the game in the 68th minute when Donovan found Keane on the left side. Keane cut past Olave and buried the ball in the back of the net to make it 3-1. As Los Angeles prepares for the possible departure of Beckham, perhaps the fans are witnessing the emergence of Keane, who had an outstanding match.
In the Eastern Conference Final, the Houston Dynamo defeated Kansas City 2-0 in Kansas City to book its third MLS Cup appearance in six years. They won the first two in 2006 and 2007. To semi-coin a phrase, the team will seek to make it third time still lucky.
Dynamo talisman Brad Davis (“the left-footed Beckham”) exited the scoreless first half with a quad injury, but Andre Hainault and Carlo Costly compensated for his absence. Hainault capitalized on a Kansas City botch job of defending a long free kick in the 53rd minute. Houston then put men behind the ball in numbers, defended tenaciously and waited to hit Kansas City on the counterattack. And right before game’s end, Luis Carmargo served up a great pass to Costly, who had only the keeper to beat.
The sole American MLS Cup contender in the U.S. national team, Donovan will travel home after the game against France, skipping the Slovenia friendly, to allow time to rest and prepare for the cup final. Keane also heads off on international duty, to captain his Ireland side against Estonia in Ireland’s bid to qualify for the European Championship for the first time since 1988. Despite recent fitness questions, he plans to play both legs.
Houston’s Hainault rejected the October call-up to play with Canada against Puerto Rico in order to focus on the playoffs. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he received no invitation this time around.
Houston beat Los Angeles handily a month back, but that was on Houston’s home soil. An undefeated L.A. home record tells a story of its own. But records, like rules, were meant to be broken.