THE PEOPLE’S GAME: Dynamo fall short in quest for win MLS Cup
After another spectacular season, the Houston Dynamo has been left to watch the Major League Soccer Cup on television after losing to the Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-0 in overtime, on Friday.
Gregg Berhalter converted a goal in the first overtime after 90 minutes of scoreless soccer to win it for the Galaxy.
David Beckham sent in a trademark cross to defender Omar Gonzalez, who put a header on target. Unfortunately for the Dynamo, it was deflected to an open Berhalter, who finished the shot from 14 yards out.
Beckham’s cross came after a foul from Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark.
Other than captain Brian Ching’s header hitting the cross bar and Andrew Hainault’s disallowed goal, penalties were the deciding factor in a highly anticipated match for the Western Conference crown.
As history has shown, the game is not over until the final whistle blows. Regrettably for Dynamo fans, a last-minute rally was cut short after a penalty kick from Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, who was a major contributor to his team’s fortunes on the pitch.
After scoring 12 regular-season goals, Donovan quietly and confidently slid the ball past Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad to mark one of the greatest turnarounds in MLS history. The penalty kick came after another costly penalty conceded by Clark.
The Galaxy moves on to face Real Salt Lake, which defeated the Chicago Fire in penalty kicks Saturday. This will be Real Salt Lake’s first time playing for the MLS Cup.
Although the Dynamo and the Galaxy did the legwork in the regular season to avoid having to rely on math skills and luck to make it to the playoffs, there was a lot at stake as the season came to a close.
Despite a remarkable 11-match unbeaten streak in the regular season, the Dynamo and Galaxy still finished tied in points. Their two-game regular-season series decided not only who would play host throughout the playoffs, but who would win the Supporters’ Shield in the Western Conference, awarded for most points scored.
The teams played to a scoreless tie Oct. 18 in Houston, but the Galaxy put the tie to bed, winning 1-0 on June 28 in Carson, Calif. This inability to score late in the season would follow the Dynamo into the postseason.
During the playoffs, when the Dynamo needed to perform against the top teams in the league, it was only able to summon one goal in three games. Though they advanced past Seattle, the Dynamo should not have relied on last-minute efforts when playing teams such as the Galaxy, which sports some of the top goal-scorers in the league.
To win, forwards Brian Ching, who netted eight goals in the regular season and Houston’s only goal in the playoffs, and Dominic Oduro would have needed to be in top form.
The team went into the match with everything on the line but could not come up with the opportunities that earned it wins earlier in the season.