by Alex Baker
Carson, CA – The LA Galaxy‘s goal-getting midfielder, Mike Magee struck again to net the decider, giving the LA Galaxy the go ahead in a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake that sees them advance through to the 2011 MLS Cup Final.
The Galaxy had taken an early lead when they were awarded a penalty kick after defender Omar Gonzalez was knocked down in the penalty area by RSL midfielder Andy Williams. Landon Donovan stepped up to the mark and just as he had on Thursday, the team USA forward converted with clinical precision, sending RSL keeper Nick Rimando the wrong way, to give the Galaxy the lead in the 23rd minute.
“I’ve been fortunate and not missed a ton of penalties in MLS, but two of them that I’ve missed have come against Nick,” said Donovan. “I was fully aware of that. I just let my instincts take over. When I got to the ball, I actually was gonna hit it the way he went and at the last second I trusted my gut and the ball went in.”
However RSL equalized just two minutes later through Alvaro Saborio who connected a header to a set piece and beat Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders to make it 1-1 in the 25th minute.
The home side regained the lead thirteen minutes into the second half when David Beckham played in a pinpoint cross to Magee who headed home his third goal in as many playoff games to restore home side’s the lead with just half an hour left on the clock.
The Galaxy’s big money summer signing, Robbie Keane got in on the scoring just ten minutes later when he received a through ball from Donovan and outmaneuvered RSL defender Jamison Olave and slotted in an improbably angled shot, giving the Galaxy a 3-1 win that will ultimately see them through to their second MLS Cup Final in three years.
Sunday’s result was a dramatic contrast to last year’s Western Conference Championship, which had seen the Galaxy eliminated by a feisty FC Dallas side that went on to eventually lose the Cup Final to the Colorado Rapids.
“Last year we were terrible,” said Magee. “We thought we were just gonna win and we had no work ethic and Dallas was the better team. Tonight we were obviously the better team and we wanted it more.”
Having emerged as Western Conference Champions, the Galaxy will now go on to host the Houston Dynamo for the MLS Cup Final, which will take place at the Home Depot Center on November 20th.