The Los Angeles Galaxy beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0 to win the 2011 MLS Cup. In a match touted as David Beckham's final MLS match, neither side made a terribly compelling case for a title match victory during a mostly dull 90 minutes, the hyperbolic ESPN commentary notwithstanding. In the end the match was won on a single goal from Landon Donovan late in the second half, securing the final result nearly everyone expected.
The first 20 minutes of the match saw the ball getting awfully comfortable in Houston's half of the field, but all the chances LA created were poorly handled by Adam Cristman. Cristman, who had started only five matches during the regular season and was playing in place of injured Chad Barrett, flubbed a couple no-doubters in the first half. After absorbing the Galaxy's early pressure, Houston briefly got things going in the Galaxy half of the pitch around the 20th minute, but they were unable to produce anything.
The Dynamo did well to control the ball at times and actually possessed and passed the ball better than the Galaxy over the course of the match, but neither the distribution from Adam Moffat nor the fancy footwork of Corey Ashe were able to put the ball into a dangerous position. Meanwhile, LA consistently moved the ball forward with ease past the Dynamo midfield, but every attack stalled in the attacking third. The 0-0 first half scoreline needed no embellishment.
Houston pressed forward early on, but they remained unable crack the Galaxy defense, save for the one shot Danny Cruz put on Galaxy's goal. An effective team on set pieces, the Dynamo looked to be putting their MLS Cup hopes on drawing fouls in dangerous areas, but even when the call did go their way, Moffat, replacing the injured Brad Davis as kick taker, couldn't quite connect with a Houston head in front of goal.
Meanwhile, Dynamo's defensive miscues throughout the half created dangerous opportunities for Robbie Keane and the Galaxy, but the quality remained elusive on the finish. Still, as the Galaxy breakaways happened with more regularity, the Dynamo defense started to show signs of fatigue.
Finally, in the 72nd minute, a clearance from the Los Angeles half fell to Robbie Keane, who used a lucky bounce to get past his defender. Donovan, making a crossover run that freed him somewhat from his marker, found a nicely placed ball from Keane. His softly chipped finish got some help from Tally Hall's mitt before it ended up in the goal.
Houston's offensive ineptitude continued despite maintaining control of the ball for much of the remainder of the match, and the Donovan goal stood, winning the Galaxy their third Cup.
But not before David Beckham put his mark on the match, taking a bit of a spill in the waning minutes -- a tumble ESPN commentator John Harkes described as "brilliant." I'm not even kidding: Harkes used the word "brilliant" to describe ... a fall.
ESPN will surely miss you next year, Old Spice.