Monday, November 7, 2011

LA Galaxy defeat Salt Lake in a Match for the Ages

Every now and again, fans of sports get to witness those special games that remind them what they love about it. That was the case last night in the Western Conference Final as the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake went toe to toe at the Home Depot Center. The result was 3-1 in favor of the Galaxy, but the score does little to tell the tale of intensity and composure by both teams.

The match put on display a wonderful level of soccer that both teams exhibited. The scoring got off to a start in the 23rd minute when Andy Williams seemingly fouled Omar Gonzalez  in the box, earning the Galaxy a pk. Landon Donovan stepped up to the mark and converted to give Los Angeles the lead. However, the lead did not last long as two minutes later Jamison Olave headed a corner kick towards goal and Alvaro Saborio directed it past Josh Saunders and into the net. It was a gorgeous goal to tie the game and the two teams battled out the half with sharp passing and timely runs by both groups creating chances. 

It was in the 58th minute that David Beckham collected the ball on the right flank and swung in a picture perfect ball to Mike Magee. Magee made no mistake in heading the ball home and giving the Galaxy the lead. The playoffs have been Magee's time to shine as he's scored in every match thus far. A solid contributor all season, it's nice to see Mike Magee getting some attention for his good form on a star studded team. 

Speaking of stars, it was Landon Donovan finding Robbie Keane in the 68th minute on a run where Keane deaked Olave to fire home an insurance goal and make it 3-1 in favor of LA. It was in this match that the Galaxy's DPs truly came alive. Donovan, Beckham and Keane all took points in this match. 

Josh Saunders though might have stolen the show as Espindola, Beckerman and Saborio all forced him into incredible saves in the second half. The attacking display by both groups was a treat to watch. Real Salt Lake was especially impressive despite their defeat. Even with the score at 3-1 and the end of their season on the line, they continued to play soccer and did not resort to cheap, fouling tactics where tempers prevailed. For all that RSL has faced this season, it was nice to see their composure last throughout. 23,437 fans were on hand to take in the spectacle. 

Los Angeles booked their ticket to the final on November 20th where they will host the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center. 

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