The LA Galaxy have advanced to their MLS best ninth MLS Cup Final, winning the Western Conference Championship over the Seattle Sounders. They will host the Eastern Conference Champion New England Revolution on Sunday, December 7th at 12pm.
The series finished level 2-2, with the Galaxy advancing on the away goals tiebreaker. Seattle took a quick 2-0 lead, but a second half Juninho goal was enough to push LA through. This will be the third time the Galaxy will face the Revolution in MLS Cup, winning both of the two previous meetings 1-0 in added extra time.
For Juninho the goal was a relief after a season full of missed opportunities. During the season he attempted 41 shots from outside the box, third most in MLS, but until tonight he hadn't scored in over a calendar year. Despite the complete shift in mood and tempo after Seattle got their first goal, Bruce Arena's message at halftime was simple:
"We just told our guys at halftime that we need a goal," Arena told reporters after the match.
With A.J. DeLAGarza sidelined with a hamstring injury, LA needed big performances out of Robbie Rogers and Omar Gonzalez and they got them. Omar Gonzalez tied Zach Scott with 15 clearances, second most in this year's MLS playoffs. Gonzalez made some noticeable errors on both Seattle goals, but in his role as a stopper he was mostly on point. Rogers meanwhile had eight interceptions, a season best for any LA Galaxy member. The first half wasn't great, but that second half went about as well as LA could have hoped.
Juninho went down hard after his goal, and had to be subbed out, but after the game he was all smiles. LA needs DeLaGarza to continue working on his health, but in Landon Donovan's final season there's every reason to push hard in their drive for a fifth MLS Cup Championship.