Real Salt Lake defeats Galaxy to win MLS Cup

MLS Cup | Real Salt Lake 1, Galaxy 1 (Real Salt Lake Wins 5-4 On Penalty Kicks)

LA loses on penalty kicks

November 23, 2009|By Grahame Jones | Tribune newspapers

SEATTLE - A cold night, two exhausted teams, overtime inconclusive and a national championship on the line.

That was the scenario at Qwest Field on Sunday night, where a wind-chilled crowd of 46,011 saw Real Salt Lake win Major League Soccer's 2009 title.

When Robbie Russell's penalty kick hit the back of the net to give the Utah side its first MLS title in only its fifth season, Galaxy heads dropped.

The players had given everything, only to fall in a shootout, 5-4, after a 1-1 tie.

David Beckham and Landon Donovan tried to lift the spirits, shaking their teammates' hands before hugging each other. It was a bitter ending to a memorable season.

Donovan - astoundingly - was one of the Galaxy players to miss his spot kick, sending it high over the crossbar. Edson Buddle and Jovan Kirovski saw their shots saved by Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Los Angeles had been seeking its third MLS title and its first since 2005, but fell at the final hurdle.

In a championship game that never rose to any great heights, spectacular plays were few and far between. But it was also a game that matched two teams of equal skill and determination.

If the Galaxy had Donovan, Real had Robbie Findley. If the Galaxy had Beckham, Real had Kyle Beckerman.

A victory would have been a deserved result for either team.

Findley scored in the 64th minute to pull RSL even at 1 after Mike Magee gave Los Angeles the lead in the 41st minute off a perfect cross by Donovan.

Eventually, it took penalty kicks to unlock the door to the MLS Cup trophy cabinet.

When that came to pass, Real had the edge. It had defeated the Fire on penalty kicks to win the Eastern Conference title. Rimando had saved three penalty kicks in that game.

Real Salt Lake played the Galaxy to a standstill. At the end of the 90 minutes of regulation, Beckham sank to the artificial turf, removed his right boot and rubbed his bone-bruised foot.

The look on his face said: tired, cold, sore.

Overtime came and went without settling the issue, despite chances for both teams.

In the end, honors went to a team that featured three former Galaxy players, and an assistant coach, Robin Fraser, who was also a Galaxy standout of old.

gjones@tribune.com

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