Los Angeles Soccer: MLS Cup
Still waiting for word on a gathering to celebrate the Galaxy's MLS Cup title -- with David Beckham, Landon Donovan, their teammates, Bruce Arena and his staff ... oh, and the trophy!
We thought it was going to be Tuesday, then figured Wednesday was the likely date, for something at Home Depot Center or L.A. Live downtown. Now we're uncertain there will be anything.
Hard to believe a plan wasn't in place before Sunday's 1-0 victory over Houston at HDC.
The Galaxy on Tuesday night announced four dates on a “trophy tour,” which would give L.A. supporters a chance to see the trophy, maybe have their pictures taken with it -- but no players, no coaches, no celebrity hangers-on.
The only conceivable day left is Friday, just before the team heads off to Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia for a three-game postseason tour.
Fans began arriving at HDC on Tuesday night to have their pictures taken with the trophy, and there's an additional opportunity on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The first 2,011 season-ticket holders to have pictures taken will receive one square foot of turf from the HDC field, too.
The trophy also will be on hand at a Salvation Army-sponsored holiday dinner for Pico-Union residents Wednesday evening at L.A. Live and Thursday morning at the Midnight Mission's Thanksgiving meal for the homeless.
The trophy also will be on display Dec. 8 at ESPN Zone at L.A. Live and for the Kings' game against the Minnesota Wild across the street at Staples Center. Additional appearances, the team says, will be announced in the next few days.
David Beckham is staying in L.A.
Whether he'll continue to play for the Galaxy is another matter altogether -- he's got options, and he'll be mulling them as the club heads off this weekend for its postseason tour of Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia -- but soccer's biggest name says Los Angeles will continue to be home no matter where he plies his trade.
“We have had such a great five years here,” Beckham told Yahoo! Sports following the Galaxy's 1-0 triumph over the Houston Dynamo in Sunday's MLS Cup final at Home Depot Center. “We plan on keeping our house here and spending the majority of our time here as a family. It is a great place for our children to grow up. We have been treated so well in this country, so we won’t be getting rid of our house.
“When you live in California, the weather is amazing every single day. For our children to be able to go to school and come home and go to the beach or jump in the pool, you don’t get that many places in the world. The whole friendliness of everybody -- it has been very laid back. We get a certain amount of privacy with certain things we do in the U.S., that has been very nice to have.
“Over the years it has always been about the professional side, what team am I going to play for -- my decisions have always been about that. But I have got a growing family, I am at the stage of my career where it is about my family, whatever makes them happy is the most important thing. I have been playing this game for a long time, I love being on successful teams and playing good football, and I plan on continuing to do that.”
Beckham, 36, has said all along that he'll take some time when the season's done, as it is now, to talk things over with his family about whether to accept a new contract from the Galaxy (supposedly at a discounted rate) or sign on for suddenly rich Paris Saint-Germain or return to London to play for Tottenham. There are other offers out there, across Europe, in England and around the globe, but PSG and Spurs are the real suitors.
Beckham's latest statement on where he'll go matches all the earlier ones: His choice is coming, it's just not here yet.
“I have a decision to make, and I haven't made it yet,” he told BBC Radio One. “I've got options, which is amazing at my age. A couple of big European clubs are after me. I need to sit down with friends and family and decide what's best for me. I might still be here next year playing.”
During the post-final news conference, Beckham noted that he “might talk in the past tense now and then, but that doesn't mean I'm not coming back.”
If the Galaxy are looking for a legacy from their MLS Cup triumph Sunday night over the Houston Dynamo, that might be it, and it could be meaningful.
Donovan, whose late-season slide coincided with a quadriceps injury that lingered until the week of the final, was good on the right flank, teaming with Sean Franklin to terrorize a Dynamo wing missing star Brad Davis. He was marvelous after joining Keane up front in the 57th minute, creating a mobile combination that ran roughshod at Houston's backline and connected for the game's only goal.
Donovan is the best forward this country has produced, has spent most of his career up top -- he's the U.S. national team's all-time goals leader (with 46) and No. 3 on the MLS list (with 115) -- and provides dimensions on the frontline that he can't when he's positioned on the right flank. He and Robbie Keane, who was marvelous in the final, would be the most dynamic front duo in MLS.
Donovan transitioned to midfield last season, and he's among MLS's elite attacking midfielders -- and has shown himself a more-than-capable defensive presence, too. He always had a knack for providing his teams what's needed, whether or not it requires his greatest gifts. Dynamo forward Brian Ching, Donovan's former U.S. and San Jose Earthquakes teammate, talked about his selflessness during the postgame news conference.
“That’s the thing about him. He’s not going to complain as long as he’s on the field,” Ching said. “It’s his unselfishness at times. Maybe he’s too unselfish at times. But he’s a great player and, of course, if he probably played up front, he’d probably score a little bit more goals, but you don’t see him complaining about not playing up front.”
Donovan had not scored from the run of play since Sept. 9, and with Chad Barrett sidelined because of a dislocated foot, coach Bruce Arena's plan was to move him to forward about an hour in. Chris Birchall's energy was a boost on the right, Donovan was a clear upgrade over Adam Cristman up front, and L.A.'s command grew more pronounced.
Houston coach Dominic Kinnear has heard the mutters that Donovan's effectiveness is waning and doesn't buy it. Neither should fans.
“He's a great player,” Kinnear said. “I think the questions about Landon and whatever really seem silly to me. What he’s done for American soccer, domestic and international, we all benefit from it. The guy’s a fantastic player. He’s a model person off the field. Any team in MLS would want him.
“When you have a guy like that in your team, you have a good chance to win games. And he tries hard defensively, which is all you can ask of someone.”
As we see more and more of Keane, who in some quarters was a clear winner of the title-game MVP award that went to Donovan, we're seeing how massive are the subtleties to his game. He's a superb passer, makes astounding space-opening runs, combines and can go 1-on-1 at defenses. What might he do lined up next to Donovan?
WORTH NOTING: No news yet on a championship celebration. Expectations were for something Tuesday at HDC or L.A. Live downtown, but the only word we've heard is that there's no word. Something Wednesday is likely. ... The best figure from the Galaxy's triumph is $12.2 million: the combined compensation for Donovan, Keane and David Beckham, the pivotal figures in L.A.'s victory over Houston. That's three times what the entire Dynamo team is paid. ... Most intense moment in the postgame news conference might have come after Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl asked Beckham whether people in Europe understood how difficult it is to win a championship in MLS. Beckham, who was unhappy with Wahl's treatment of his 2008 season with the Galaxy in The Beckham Experiment, finished his answer by staring at Wahl, seated in the front row (next to me, actually). “It's always nice to have doubters along the way,” he said, “and it's always nice to prove them wrong.” ... Some 48 Dynamo fans traveled 28 hours by bus to watch their team in the final. ... The Galaxy depart this weekend for their three-game postseason tour of Indonesia, Philippines and Australia. These will be the final games for defender Gregg Berhalter, who is retiring as a player -- and perhaps Jovan Kirovski, too? He is expected to continue as an assistant coach for L.A.
CARSON, Calif. -- The best team Major League Soccer has ever seen?
Bruce Arena still doesn't want to say so, but after the Galaxy's triumph in Sunday night's MLS Cup final completed a truly exceptional campaign for American soccer's signature side, it didn't make much sense to argue.
So he didn't.
“I'd like to be able to say that, but I don't know how you do that. I just don't,” the Galaxy's head coach said after a comprehensive 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo at Home Depot Center. “I mean, this is a good team, and we've accomplished a lot this year. ... To have the regular season we had, and then throw in the CONCACAF Champions League and then to win the MLS Cup, it's a helluva accomplishment.
“I really think if I say this team belongs there, you minimize accomplishments of others. There have been some very good teams in this league. I just think we're another one of those. This is a damn good year. It really is.”
This year ended brilliantly, with the Galaxy dictating terms nearly from start to finish, getting a sweet goal from Landon Donovan with about 20 minutes to go and denying the Dynamo more than a sniff or two at the net with a superb defensive game plan.
It's the club's third MLS Cup title, to go with those won in 2002 and '05, and it played out on a chilly, rainy night in front of 30,281, the largest crowd to see a soccer game at HDC. L.A. prevailed despite wasting numerous opportunities, but its possession limited the time Houston had on the ball -- and its high pressure kept the Dynamo from providing the kind of service it needed to make a game of it.
“We just wanted to be on the front foot, which we were,” left back Todd Dunivant said. “We knew second balls on this kind of slick field was going to be important. I think we did a good job on the first balls, and I think we did a good job on the second balls. It made a big difference, because we were putting them on their heels, getting chances, getting in behind their defense, getting crosses in. We had a couple really good opportunities. Didn't come for a while, but we just kept going.”
Adam Cristman, who stepped in for injured forward Chad Barrett, had a couple of open headers he whiffed on in the first half, Mike Magee went well over the crossbar when presented an opportunity at the end of the first half, and Robbie Keane repeatedly stretched the Dynamo backline, firing just wide and seeing a goal in the 57th minute waved off by an offside flag.
Things fell into place in the 71st minute, when David Beckham -- playing perhaps his final MLS game -- nodded Dunivant's throw-in onto Keane's path heading toward Houston's goal. Keane caught his balance, stepped past Dynamo center back Bobby Boswell, then split Boswell and Geoff Cameron with a little ball for the streaking Donovan.
Donovan -- who moved up front when Chris Birchall came on for Cristman in the 57th minute -- redirected it past goalkeeper Tally Hall and inside the right post.
Galaxy: Josh Saunders; Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant; Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Juninho, Mike Magee; Adam Cristman, Robbie Keane. Bench: Gregg Berhalter, Chris Birchall, Paolo Cardozo, Frankie Hejduk, Jovan Kirovski, Michael Stephens, Donovan Ricketts.
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Jermaine Taylor; Danny Cruz, Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo, Corey Ashe; Calen Carr, Brian Ching. Bench: Will Bruin, Colin Clark, Carlos Costly, Tyler Deric, Hunter Freeman, Eddie Robinson, Je-Vaughn Watson.
- 1996/FOXBOROUGH, MASS.
strong>D.C. United 3, Galaxy 2 (OT)
L.A. takes a 2-0 lead into the final 10 minutes, watches it disappear, then loses to an Eddie Pope header four minutes into sudden-death overtime. In a Nor'easter. Without captain Dan Calichman, suspended for playoff yellow cards.
- 1999/FOXBOROUGH, MASS.
Bad fortune all around. Top defender Robin Fraser goes down because of a shoulder injury in the opening minutes, and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman whiffs on a back pass to gift D.C. a second goal. And that was it.
- 2001/COLUMBUS, OHIO
Mexican star Luis Hernandez provides an early lead, but Landon Donovan is a 19-year-old star for San Jose, not L.A., and his first MLS Cup strike pulls the Quakes even before halftime. Dwayne De Rosario comes off the bench to tally the overtime winner.
- 2002/FOXBOROUGH, MASS.
The third trip to Foxborough brings success, finally! Sigi Schmid delivered the first MLS Cup crown to the Galaxy in front of an event-record 61,316, with Carlos Ruiz's strike 23 minutes into overtime -- just moments after Winston Griffiths hit the crossbar from distance for New England -- starting the celebration.
- 2005/FRISCO, TEXAS
The Galaxy was the bottom seed for the playoffs, but they went on a run after stunning San Jose in the first round and conquered the Revs again. Guatemalan forward Guillermo “Pando” Ramirez -- scoring his first goal on his 62nd shot of the season, worst ratio in MLS history -- was the hero, knocking in a cleared corner kick 17 minutes into overtime.
(RSL wins on penalties, 5-4)
Injuries dogged the Galaxy, with goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and defender Omar Gonzalez forced to the sidelines in the second half, and a first-half lead through Mike Magee disappeared in the 64th minute, courtesy of Robbie Findley. Nick Rimando was the difference in the shootout, making two saves to give bottom seed RSL an unexpected title.
- 2006/FRISCO, TEXAS
(Dynamo win on penalties, 4-3)
The first 90 minutes? Blah. Overtime? Electrifying! With “golden goal” dead, Taylor Twellman's strike 23 minutes into overtime did not give the Revs the victory, and Brian Ching's header 71 seconds later sent the game to the penalty spot. Twellman and Ching converted in the shootout, which went to Houston when Jay Heaps -- hired last week as New England's head coach -- was saved by Pat Onstad.
The Dynamo made it 2 for 2 after the move from San Jose (and 4 for 7, including the Earthquakes' titles) behind Dwayne De Rosario, who fed Joseph Ngwenya's 61st-minute equalizer and scored the 74th-minute winner. The Revs hit Bills/Vikings territory with their fourth MLS Cup loss, all in overtime or on PKs.
Whether it'll be an attack-filled classic or a defensive struggle is impossible to know. This is an intriguing matchup of size (advantage: Houston) and skill (L.A.), reliance on long balls or possession and the limits of defensive organization, which ultimately will determine who's parading the trophy at the end.
Here are two keys to victory in the final:
1. UP IN THE AIR
Geoff Cameron is 6-foot-3, fellow center back Bobby Boswell is 6-2, and forward Brian Ching is a very aggressive 6-1, and the way they go after Brad Davis' set pieces is something to behold. The Dynamo are even more dominant at the other end, with Cameron, Boswell and 6-footer Andre Hainault repelling crosses into their area.
This team thrives on the aerial game, and in Davis possessed the perfect conduit, the closest thing to a Bobby Boswell among American players. Davis' injury complicates things.
Adam Moffat, who has a rocket foot, will take the set pieces, but speedy Corey Ashe, who will take Davis' place on the left side of midfield, has a far different game. Figure Moffat to wander wide to provide service or go over the top for Ching or to take advantage of Calen Carr's pace.
Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear can call on rookie Will Bruin and Honduran star Carlo Costly, both 6-2, if he needs more targets late.
“Adam places a good ball,” Davis said. “And I've said all year we've got guys that have the desire and will to want to score goals and want to attack the ball.”
The Galaxy have occasionally struggled with their marking on set pieces, so that's been a point of emphasis in preparations.
The English star has been renowned primarily for his golden right foot, which can deliver balls over distance to specified points with uncanny accuracy. Think of NFL quarterbacks throwing bombs, but doing so with their feet, and you've got Beckham.
They even named a movie after Beckham's skill set, but Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall said heading into Sunday's MLS Cup final against L.A. at Home Depot Center that it's not necessarily the movement he puts on the ball that's so damaging.
“It's not so much the type of bend, it's the speed that he plays it in [and] that Beckham plays it in to good spots,” said Hall, who turned down the Galaxy in 2007 to play in Denmark, then joined the Dynamo in 2009. “Trust me, he could take away the bend and still put it in a good spot. ...
“All his crosses and passes are hit with confidence, so they've got to where they're supposed to go in a hurry. You take away one second of flight time, that doesn't sound like a lot, but, for me, that could be the difference between coming [out to grab or punch the ball] or staying on my line. He's the best in the world at that.”
Houston coach Dominic Kinnear agrees with the assessment. He was asked about Beckham's “limited” skill set, that Beckham's delivery always is right-footed, and he's not particularly fast, so why is it so hard to stop hm?
L.A. the past two weeks has repeatedly tried to throw off the favorite's yoke, but it's not going away. Former L.A. GM Alexi Lalas, in his weekly column in Britain's Daily Mirror, asserted that “if the Galaxy were to somehow lose, it would have to be considered an undeniable disaster and, without mincing words, a failure.”
A little over the top, but absolutely true. If the Houston Dynamo lose this one, it will have been a great finish that ended in defeat to perhaps the finest side MLS has seen. If the Galaxy loses, it's a massive disappointment.
So if we have to make a prediction -- and we think this game can go either way -- we'll go with the Galaxy, 2-1. Maybe in overtime.
Bruce Arena warns against expectations.
“No idea,” he said on the eve of the Cup when asked what kind of game he expects. “I don't know how anyone ever figures that out. I know you guys [in the media] will write a story about that somehow. I have no idea what kind of game it will be.”
He said the game is about making adjustments.
“I've had games this year where I said it's important we get out to a good start and get on top of these guys, and we're down a goal in the first five minutes of the game," he said. "It's always like that. We can never choreograph what's going to happen in a game. You need players who can just think on their feet.”
The Galaxy are three seasons into a mammoth rebuild, a work of startling brilliance by Bruce Arena, America's best soccer coach doing the best work of his career.
The Dynamo are where the Galaxy sat two years ago, Arena's first full season in charge. Head coach Dominic Kinnear has made radical changes to his roster and didn't get the lineup right until September, and now -- well ahead of schedule -- his team is playing for a trophy that looked wholly out of grasp just a couple of months ago.
It's the makings of a classic MLS Cup final: two of the league's most storied franchises, led by two of the league's most respected coaches (one a former U.S. national team boss, the other a potential U.S. manager down the line), both fighting back from franchise lows and emerging just 90 minutes or perhaps 120 (and maybe penalty kicks, too) from the most coveted silverware in the American game.
Now throw in all of the side chatter -- Will David Beckham return to MLS? Oh, no, Brad Davis can't play! -- and remember the clubs share ownership. (AEG owns half of the Dynamo.)
The Dynamo have American soccer's most enduring dynasty -- four titles and three coulda-beens since 2001, starting when the team played in San Jose. And it's been pointed out a few times that this Galaxy team could be, should be -- surely is -- the finest side in league history, and that it comes in, playing at home and all, as massive favorite.
“I think this is going to be a lot better game than people expect it to be,” said Davis, the Dynamo's star winger, an MVP finalist who will sit out after tearing a quadriceps muscle in the Eastern Conference title-game triumph two weeks ago in Kansas City. “I think people expect L.A. to come out and just beat us and walk all over us. I don't think that's the way it's going to be at all.
“I think they have a very good team, but anybody knows you come down to these games, it's how you show up that day. They could be the best team all year, but I believe the mentality and the attitude and the way we've been playing of late has been some of the best that I've been on with the club.”
Davis has been with the Dynamo since their last season, 2005, in San Jose, and was a contributor to thebteams that won MLS Cups the first two seasons in Houston. Two more players -- forward Brian Ching and reserve defender Eddie Robinson -- also were Earthquakes, as were Kinnear and some of his staff.
It was the legacy started in San Jose, with MLS Cup titles in 2001 and 2003 and a Supporters' Shield in 2005, that the Dynamo sought to connect with after missing the postseason last year.
Houston followed its twin titles by winning the Western Conference in 2008 but was upset in the opening round of the playoffs. A year later, the Dynamo played for an MLS Cup berth, losing controversially to the Galaxy in the Western Conference final at the Home Depot Center. With better luck, they might have won four successive championships.
CARSON -- David Beckham returned to training after skipping Thursday and Friday's sessions, then declared himself ready for Sunday MLS Cup final against Houston.
That's what the Galaxy has been saying all along -- and what anyone who knows Beckham was expecting -- despite talk of a cold and whispers that something's wrong with his hamstring.
He was on Home Depot Center's stadium field Saturday afternoon. Most of the session was closed to the media, but Beckham said things went well.
“I sat out, obviously, the last couple of days, but good to be back out there with the guys, and we're ready as a team, we're ready,” he said. “My body feels great. It shouldn't be a problem, shouldn't be an issue.”
Officially, he's listed as questionable for the match with back spasms -- but he's been questionable for most of the past two months or so, because of ongoing back problems, and it's yet to keep him out of a game.
“I've had issues with my back all season,” said Beckham, whose injury at one point was diagnosed as a minor spinal stress fracture. “But I was able to train today and came through it with no problem.”
CARSON -- The first instinct was to flee.
That's how bad the Galaxy were when Bruce Arena arrived in Los Angeles back in August 2008 to discuss a rebuild of a rusting giant, a once-proud champion that had descended into circus fare during a woeful nine months under Dutch icon Ruud Gullit's stewardship.
“When I came in and looked at the team,” Arena says now, gleam in his eye, “I thought about maybe going back home again. Going back to the East Coast.”
He followed his second instinct instead, found nice digs near the ocean, then dug in, meticulously transforming the Galaxy from punchline to powerhouse. That path has led here, to Sunday's MLS Cup final against the Houston Dynamo at Home Depot Center -- and a potential coronation, whatever it's worth, as “greatest Major League Soccer team of them all.”
“The goal was to bring the Galaxy back where we could compete for championships, so I guess the blueprint has been partially successful,” he said this week. “To get it right requires a win on Sunday. If we win on Sunday, I think we have the blueprint right.”
Arena's accomplishments are legend in American soccer. He won five NCAA championships at Virginia, guided D.C. United to the first two MLS Cup crowns (plus a CONCACAF Champions' Cup title), then directed the U.S. national team through its most successful eight-year span, highlighted by a quarterfinal run at the 2002 World Cup. He was inducted last year into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
What he's done in L.A. perhaps tops everything else. He took a franchise at its lowest point and in 15 months had it playing for a title. The next two seasons -- last and this -- were rewarded with Supporters' Shields, for winning regular-season titles. Now the club's third MLS Cup championship sits 90 minutes away.
“Everybody knows I'm a big believer in Bruce,” says Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo, who played for Arena at Virginia and with D.C. and was one of his assistants with the national team. “It's not the first time I've said he's the best in the business. And he just is. He's proven it time and time again in a league that's extremely difficult, where there's enormous parity. The fact that his teams have been in first place basically for two years running, it's just a remarkable accomplishment.”
Arena this season guided the Galaxy to that second Shield (with 19 victories and modern-era record 67 points), into CONCACAF's Champions League (as the only non-Mexican group winner) and through three tight playoff games, all victories, against teams every bit as talented as his. He's done this while refashioning the attack; enduring dozens of injuries, to nearly every important player on the roster; and herding the team through an exhausting series of games, two a week for most of two months, during the season's final stretch.
It's been, says associate head coach Dave Sarachan, who has worked alongside Arena for many of the past 27 years, “by far his best work.”
CARSON -- The Galaxy unveiled the 10-year television deal with Time Warner Cable's new English- and Spanish-language regional sports networks, and the conversation with AEG President Tim Leiweke afterward quickly turned to David Beckham.
As in: Will he stay?
“You guys are more hung up on that than I am,” Leiweke said.
That might be true, but as Leiweke readily proclaimed, this new deal -- worth $55 million, according to a Los Angeles Times report earlier this week -- is all about Beckham.
The basics: Time Warner is anchoring its new networks, set to launch net year, with the Lakers and the Galaxy, and they're committing to a lot of programming: games, of course, but plenty of ancillary coverage, too. The “Bruce Arena Show,” anyone?
“We don't talk about this deal without David Beckham,” Leiweke said after the announcement in a Home Depot Center news conference. “We wouldn't have gotten the Herbalife deal [in 2007, worth as much as $25 million over five year] without David Beckham. We certainly are not touring Indonesia, Asia and Australia without David Beckham, and we're not getting the kind of guarantees we're getting [for the trip] without David Beckham. I don't even think we get Robbie Keane without David Beckham.
“We wouldn't be sitting here with the kind of partners we have, the attention we have -- and this [MLS Cup final at HDC] on Sunday, we could be at the Rose Bowl and sell 80,000 seats. That's David Beckham.”
Beckham's role in the Time Warner deal has mostly to do with influence. He has provided a spotlight on Major League Soccer, and especially on the Galaxy, that has a lot of very fine players thinking they'd like to head on over, guys who otherwise wouldn't think twice about MLS.
Whether he returns to L.A next year for a sixth season (and beyond?) or is off to London or Paris or wherever, Beckham represents a commitment, Leiweke said, to how the club will do its business.
“[This is] arguably the biggest deal we've done, period,” he said. “If you look at the amount of coverage they're going to provide to the team; if you look at the fact that it's two different networks, and they're going to build these networks around us and the Lakers; and if you look at, obviously, the financial commitment they've made here, not just in rights fees, but in production and talent, this is fantastic because it treats the Galaxy like the Lakers.
The Galaxy haven't lost at home this year. They haven't lost any match at HDC, going 17-0-6, including the road game against Chivas USA, three CONCACAF Champions League victories, and the friendly with Manchester City.
Think that's intimidating? Not for the Dynamo.
Houston went 15 road games without a victory this season, finally winning at FC Dallas on Sept. 24. They've been perfect away since, winning at Portland in mid-October then claiming playoff victories at Philadelphia and, in the Eastern Conference title game, at Sporting Kansas City.
“Before the playoffs started, we were pretty [poor] on the road,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear noted during the MLS Cup news conference Thursday afternoon at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A. “It took us 16 games to get our first road win this year. It wasn't due to lack of playing well -- sometimes we didn't, and sometimes we did, but results didn't go our way.”
The victory at Dallas “gave us a lot of confidence” and the victory in Portland “was crucial for us,” Kinnear said.
And it all paid off in the postseason.