In the end, what was most impressive about the LA Galaxy against the Seattle Sounders was also their undoing in the Western Conference finals. The home team’s back line were spectators for an impressive Dallas attack, the LA superstars played a poor match overall, and the winningest coach in MLS playoff history was outcoached. Because of this, FC Dallas advances to their first ever MLS Cup and lose the distinction of being the only original MLS club that had not made a Final.
The first half was the opportunity for Kevin Hartman to show his opposing keeper why it was he who deserved to win the Keeper of the Year Award. The Galaxy attack early on was controlling play as they put up multiple shots on the FC Dallas defense. Landon Donovan himself had two good chances in the first half, one in the sixteenth minute that was a cross Hartman intercepted and one in the thirty-first minute when Hartman’s dive just knocked the shot away from the far post. But it was Juninho who may have had the best chance of the half for the home team when in the twenty-first minute he took the ball outside the box unmarked and launched a rocket that Hartman saved via reflex. At times early on, it looked like the Dallas defense was happy to watch Hartman just try and stop the Galaxy tries.
But it was Dallas that struck first. The Galaxy had clogged the middle of the pitch to try and prevent David Ferreira from making any plays. But in the twenty-sixth minute, the MVP candidate took a pass from Atiba Harris and, as Omar Gonzalez and the LA defense watched, scored the first goal of the match. Not surprisingly, the Dallas attack went through Ferreira, and not surprisingly he created some magnificent goals all night.
The story of the second half was pretty consistent – the Galaxy threatened and tried to put together good chances, but Dallas would clog passing lanes and prevent open chances for the home team. Dallas would counter and Ferreira would find a teammate left unmarked by the defense who would then either score or just miss the chance. The second goal was scored by George John from a Brek Shea pass, his first goal of the year and an excellent goal. Chavez scored the backbreaking goal in the seventy-third minute, but it could have easily been Chavez in the forty-ninth, Ferreira in the fifty-third, or Harris in the sixty-first. But in the end, the story line is the Galaxy defense just did not have an answer for David Ferreira, and as he has all season he made his opponent pay. The team with the 36 year old keeper no one wanted and the 5’5″ midfielder is going to play Colorado for the 2010 MLS Cup, and it was well deserved.
One note – in the eighty-third minute Eddie Lewis was substituted off for the final time, and he has played his last MLS match. Congratulations to him on an incredible career.