MLS Cup 2011: LA Galaxy Are Champions

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 20: (L-R) David Beckham #23 and Bruce Arena of the Los Angeles Galaxy pose for a portrait following the 2011 MLS Cup at The Home Depot Center on November 20, 2011 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

It's really difficult to analyze a title match, especially when it involves a team you've been covering all year; in this case for me that's the LA Galaxy. Usually, when I sit down with my quotes and my stat sheet, I'm looking for the clues that reveal what really happened out there mostly to be able to gauge where the team is going. Tonight's not about where LA is going, it's about all the places they went. 

I'll put off til the week ahead the season in review stuff. Yet, diving into the details of the match doesn't seem to mater. The Galaxy won. The Galaxy are MLS champs and no amount of analysis of the match changes the fact that this was the caper to one fo the greatest seasons ever. I keep saying that. It's because it's true. 

The Galaxy had no offside calls in the first half, Houston had five. That shows me a Galaxy back four that held their line beautiful, Houston players losing their heads a bit, and a Galaxy team that was able to take eight shots on goal while keeping their form. 

The Galaxy had five corner kicks in the first half, Houston had none. That shows me a Galaxy team that was able to take eight shots on goal and force Houston into clearances defenses don't want to make. The Galaxy were pushing, they lacked a final touch. They lacked a final touch because Adam Cristman was terrible. They took Cristman off and they scored two goals. 

Remember "Robbie Keane scored two goals and I'll believe that til I die"? Well say hello to its cousin "Robbie Keane scored in MLS Cup and I'll believe that til I die". I've not seen one person say that was the right call disallowing that Robbie Keane goal. Anyhow, there were two great stretches like that in the second half. Beckham to Robbie to Donovan stretches where you really saw what three DPs having their way with a defense looked like. After Cristman went out, Landon Donovan moved up top with Robbie Keane. It really was a lynchpin moment.

Why is lynchpin the only word we have for definitive plus immediate? That's terribly gruesome.

Here's another point, it's really difficult to trust soccer statistics. The official ones we're given by MLS say the Galaxy took 14 shots with four shots on goal. Opta sports gives the Galaxy 14 shots with three shots on goal. ESPN say 14 shots and eight shots on goal. What? 

Here's what I make on the shot chart. If you're gonna credit the Galaxy with three SOG, that's Landon Donovan's goal, the 79' save on Donovan's shot and the 93+' diving tip save of David Beckham's free kick. You wanna go four, there's a blocked shot in the 35' again taken by Landon Donovan. If you wanna go eight, you have to add in four shots that were cleared by defenders. What constitutes a defender blocking a shot and a defender clearing a shot? I still haven't read an honest explanation.

Point of all that? Landon Donovan was a derving MVP, with three legit chances on goal, one that went in. Adam Cristman had three legit chances on goal and went wide right, wide right, and had a defender clear it. That's something the shots on goal statistic covers up.

Great win. Is it enough just to say that? The LA Galaxy win their third title as a franchise, playing in their seventh MLS Cup, the first one they've won in Los Angeles in front of their home fans. It was a great night that those in attendance will never forget. All 30, 281 of them, who came out in the rain. I'll leave you with this. Goodnight everbody:

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