When the LA Galaxy let in a goal just before halftime, it let out a bit of the air in the stadium. Landon Donovan was still thinking about his sitter, and certainly so were many of the fans. Still, not many were expecting a clean sheet; especially not Bruce Arena who said after the match that they were never phased.
"Our guys are used to this stuff. You should have seen us at halftime, we were fine. We were just catching our breath, getting a little bit reorganized and understanding that the first 15 minutes of that second half, we needed to keep ourselves in the game."
It has to be said that LA benefited from injuries during their run up to MLS Cup. San Jose losing Berdardez in the second leg, Eddie Johnson not being available for the first leg, and yesterday it was Houston losing Calen Carr. He scored the opening goal and then he had two attempts in that first fifteen minutes period Bruce Arena was talking about.
So yes, the Galaxy kept themselves in the game for the first fifteen minutes of the second half, but at the end of those fifteen minutes Houston lost a great player.
"I told them at halftime," said Arena, "we get the first goal, we win the game, there were more goals to come. The guys kept their composure, the experience certainly helped and they did what they had to do."
A minute later, the Galaxy pepper Houston with a series of aerial attacks until finally Omar Gonzalez put one past Tally Hall. The Galaxy got that first goal, and on the ESPN broadcast Taylor Twellman said the next five minutes were important for the Dynamo. The old when it rains it pours theory. Sure enough, Mike Magee's shot earned the Galaxy a penalty five minutes later.
"I do want to mention, I thought Houston played real well today. They deserve a lot of credit and I’m sure they feel it was some tough calls, but a penalty is a penalty and they were both penalties. Our guys responded well, I give Houston a lot of credit but certainly my hat’s off to our team."
Houston did play well, and with the sun coming out and both teams playing at a higher tempo it was certainly an easier match to watch (especially for neutrals) than last year. That high tempo certainly took it's toll on the players. Beckham said after the match that when he got his sub at the end he was grateful because he was so tired. When that stoppage time penalty was given, Beckham went over to Donovan and told him to take it, but Donovan said Beckham should take it cause he was too tired. They eventually agreed Keane should take it.
All credit to the Galaxy for keeping their heads and pushing hard in the second half to get that victory.