Well the Sounders may be out, but that doesn't keep me from recapping the MLS Cup playoffs. Today we found out who will be playing for the MLS Cup title two weeks from now and who will be packing their bags and heading home one game away from the MLS Cup final. The playoff system has turned into a land of confusion because of the wild card positions where an Eastern Conference team would end up in the western conference bracket or a Western Conference team possibly ending up in the eastern bracket. The fact that Seattle was knocked out the playoffs was because the Quarterfinal was a two game home-and-home series where whoever scores the most goals in the series moves on and if the series ended all square after 90 minutes in the 2nd leg, there would be two 15-minute overtime periods and if still tied, the series would be decided by penalties (There's no Golden Goal). After that, the semifinals and the championship is single elimination. This round was the semifinal where the winner heads to the final.
Sporting Kansas City vs Houston Dynamo (Houston wins 2-0):
Well after missing out on the playoffs last season, the Houston Dynamo are moving on to the MLS Cup for the third time in franchise history. The previous two times they were in the final in 2006 and 2007, they won the MLS Cup. They move on to the Championship after defeating Sporting Kansas City 2-0. Andre Hainault opened the scoring in the 53rd minute after Adam Moffat whipped a cross to the back post. The ball bounced around and fell to Hainault who tapped it in to make it 1-0 Dynamo. In the 87th minute, Sporting Kansas City were caught on a counter and beat on a counter. Luiz Camargo split a through ball which sent Carlo Costly behind the defense and through on goal, and the Honduran international made no mistake, banging a shot off the post and in to put the Eastern Conference final beyond reach.
I got to tell you, keeping track of the MLS teams all season long and tracking what Sporting Kansas City has accomplished since moving to their new home ground back in June after all they went through in their first eight games of the season, all on the road of course, winning the Eastern Conference regular season title and then getting knocked out of the playoffs one game away from a trip to LA is just a major disappointment and Teal Bunbury knows it. It's been an up and down year for Bunbury, struggling through injury which left him off the U.S. squad for the Gold Cup. Despite his struggles, the 21-year old did manage to finish the year with 9 goals and 5 assists in 29 matches and will start to get better in years to come. But that picture says it all, a missed opportunity at reaching the final and qualifying for the 2012-2013 CONCACAF Champions League is just tough to swallow and Teal Bunbury and the rest of the Sporting Kansas City players will be feeling the pain for a few days.
Houston Dynamo - Andre Hainault (unassisted) 53'
Houston Dynamo - Carlo Costly (Luiz Camargo) 87'
Houston Dynamo - Calen Carr (caution; Reckless tackle) 17'
Sporting Kansas City - Julio Cesar (caution; Reckless foul) 30'
Houston Dynamo - Luiz Camargo (caution; Reckless tackle) 55'
Sporting Kansas City - Roger Espinoza (caution; Dissent) 74'
Houston Dynamo - Carlo Costly (caution; Shirt removal) 87'
Houston Dynamo - Tally Hall; Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe; Danny Cruz, Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo, Brad Davis (Jermaine Taylor 39'); Brian Ching (Carlo Costly 78'), Calen Carr (Will Bruin 68')
Sporting Kansas City - Jimmy Nielsen; Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Julio Cesar (Jeferson 82'), Seth Sinovic (Omar Bravo 85'); Chance Myers, Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza (Davy Arnaud 75'); C.J. Sapong, Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury
Los Angeles Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake (Los Angeles wins 3-1):
With the Los Angeles Galaxy advancing to the MLS Cup final and the fact that Los Angeles was chosen to host the 2011 MLS Cup final, you would expect LA to win the final. The Galaxy earned a spot in the final after defeating Real Salt Lake by a score of 3-1. LA got on the board first in the 23rd minute. Omar Gonzalez was pushed to the ground from behind in the RSL penalty area and referee Jorge Gonzalez pointed to the penalty spot. Landon Donovan stepped up for the LA Galaxy and put the spot kick away with ease. RSL answered back two minutes later. Off a Javier Morales corner, Jamison Olave headed the ball back across goal for Alvaro Saborio who flicked it in to the goal to level things up. In the 58th minute, LA re-took the lead. David Beckham again doing what he does best. Curling in a trademark cross to the far post for Mike Magee who headed it goalwards from point blank range and in off the hands of Nick Rimando to put LA up 2-1. 10 minutes later, LA puts the icing on the cake in the Western Conference. RSL started to push numbers forward and LA made them pay on a counter attack when Landon Donovan fed Robbie Keane who started to slow down as he was approaching the penalty area, the Irish international made a nice cut to full Jamison Olave and ripped a shot low and into the far corner to seal the win and a place in the MLS Cup final.
Ever since David Beckham has arrived to MLS in 2007, the league has started to become one of the top leagues in the world and that American soccer is starting to grow. Now remember, I listed him at no. 1 when I gave you guys my Top 5 worst Designated Players in MLS history, but I may over look that if LA were to win the MLS Cup on November 20th. It's just disappointing to have guys like David Beckham and Landon Donovan on your team and not win a league title with both of them on your team. In 09' the LA Galaxy reached the final as we all know, this one was in Seattle. The match went to penalties and the Galaxy ended up losing to Real Salt Lake. Last season, the Galaxy were knocked out of the playoffs in the semifinals, losing 3-0 at home to FC Dallas. Now this year, in what could be David Beckham's final season in Major League Soccer, will Beckham finally win an MLS Cup title?
Los Angeles Galaxy - Landon Donovan (penalty kick) 23'
Real Salt Lake - Alvaro Saborio (Jamison Olave, Javier Morales) 25'
Los Angeles Galaxy - Mike Magee (David Beckham, Robbie Keane) 58'
Los Angeles Galaxy - Robbie Keane (Landon Donovan) 68'
Los Angeles Galaxy - Juninho (caution; Reckless foul) 56'
Real Salt Lake - Javier Morales (caution; Reckless tackle) 70'
Los Angeles Galaxy - Sean Franklin (caution; Delaying a restart) 93'+
Real Salt Lake - Nick Rimando; Robbie Russell (Ned Grabavoy 70'), Jamison Olave (Tony Beltran 82'), Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert; Andy Williams (Luis Gil 75'), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Will Johnson; Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio
Los Angeles Galaxy - Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Landon Donovan, David Beckham (Michael Stephens 89'), Juninho, Mike Magee; Chad Barrett (Chris Birchall 63'), Robbie Keane