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Sunday, December 2, 2012

For Landon and David: LA Galaxy wins MLS Cup 2012

Photo credit: USA Today

It is only fitting, perhaps, that David Beckham's last game for the LA Galaxy would be at the tournament final and with an emphatic win. It's the stuff that dreams are made of. Beckham came to light the way for MLS, struggled in the first 2 years, was distant in the following 2, and brought it home in the final 2 with two titles for the Galaxians. But that's what it took to bring it home for him.

Landon Donovan did better. He won his 5th MLS Cup, added to his record as high-scoring player in the playoffs, and temporarily made us forget that he may be on his way out. It could have been different had he missed the go-ahead penalty in the second half, as he had missed a one-on-one with Tally Hall in the first half that would have given the Galaxy the lead. But Donovan was calm and collected and slotted home the penalty kick and gave LA its 4th title, tying it with DC United for most wins. He will go on an extended break now, perhaps not to return to the game.

This year's Houston was not like last year's. Brad Davis would start, Boniek Garcia was on the pitch alongside Ricardo Clark, and Will Bruin was a natural goalscorer. But Calen Carr made the difference in this game for the Dynamo both in offense and defense. He scored Houston's goal at the end of the first half and held Omar Gonzalez in check for the entirety of his time on the pitch. Sadly, he got injured, and the floodgates promptly opened for the Galaxy.

The real hero for the LA Galaxy, and game MVP, was undoubtedly Omar Gonzalez. He nearly single-handedly repelled every ball that came close to the Galaxy goal box, made up for some of Meyer's errors, and scored a wonderful tying goal that made the Galaxy's win possible. Gonzalez's tactical awareness and nose for goal is reminiscent of a young Carlos Bocanegra. Klinsmann may need to consider him as a candidate to man defense alongside Geoff Cameron. Indeed, Gonzalez could well have been playing in Europe by now had it not been for a terrible knee injury back in January.

As Robbie Keane scored the penalty in injury time, we saw curtains close on an American spectacle. This game had all it needed to have and more than we could have wanted. High-scoring, high tension, star power, drama on and off the pitch, love of the game, and saying goodbye. For Landon and David, that's what this truly means. And the two LA Galaxy aces leave with what they wanted: a Hollywood ending.