Last night, in an Epic Battle, Real Salt Lake defeated the LA Galaxy to win the MLS Cup 2009. It was evident that RSL left everything they had on the field as they played over 120 minutes of play that included 2 overtime periods. The match was finally decided in penalty kicks where Robbie Russell buried the winning kick in the seventh round of the shootout.
Going into the match-up, no one outside of Utah expected an RSL victory. The LA Galaxy features a star-studded cast with the team being lead by David Beckham and Landon Donovan. Truthfully, the Galaxy had more “big game” experience sitting on their bench then Real Salt Lake had in their starting squad. But experience isn’t what wins games.
RSL played with a sense of commitment and pride as they moved the ball. They dominated play throughout most of the match except for a 10 min stretch in the first half. The Galaxy made a quick 3 pass play and opened up the scoring 1-0 with 40:15 on the clock. It was Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee that converted in the first half to put a capstone on a period of Los Angeles dominance, while Robbie Findley answered back for Real Salt Lake in the second half.
Beckham and Mathis converted the first round of penalties, followed by Berhalter and Findley. Rimando, who had made three saves in the Eastern Conference final, made the first big play, diving to his right to deny Kirovski. Saunders answered by saving Beckerman in a near carbon copy of the previous kick.
Donovan stepped up. Normally deadly in these situations, the LA captain's shot went over the bar. Grabavoy seized the momentum with a coolly taken goal. Magee's successful effort kept Los Angeles alive. RSL's Williams calmly strode to the spot to seal the win, but Saunders dove left to make the save.
Now into the sixth round, Klein and Chris Wingert both tallied. Rimando came up with another big save on Buddle, leaving Philip F. Anschutz Trophy in defender Russell's hands. This time the shot went in, going low to the left with Saunders diving the other way. Russell immediately dropped to his knees as Rimando and the rest of the squad raced in to create the celebratory dogpile.