Monday, November 23, 2009

Robbie Russell scored in the seventh round and the scrappy underdogs from RSL beat the star-studded Galaxy 5-4 on penalties Sunday night to win the league championship.

Rimando swatted away shots by Jovan Kirovski in the third round and smothered Edson Buddle's weak attempt in the seventh round to set up Russell's winning shot that beat backup Los Angeles keeper Josh Saunders.

Nick Rimando was named MVP

It was the second straight shootout victory for RSL, which beat Chicago 5-4 on penalties last week for the Eastern Conference championship. Rimando made three saves in the penalty shootout against the Fire and the game MVP came up big again in front of 46,011 fans, the fourth-largest crowd for an MLS Cup.

After Mike Magee scored in the 41st minute for Los Angeles off a perfect cross by Donvoan, the Galaxy's control of play quickly disappeared.

Donovan became a non-factor, as the league MVP was constantly hounded by the Real defense and never given space. The pain killers Beckham took before the game started wearing off early in the second half and his limp became more noticeable.

Meanwhile, RSL kept attacking. Robbie Findley scored in the 64th minute to pull RSL even at 1 and the peppering of the Los Angeles goal continued from there. They nearly scored again before the end of regulation, then missed a trio of opportunities during overtime: Findley's left-footed shot toward an open goal that was deflected away by Los Angeles defender A.J. DeLaGarza and drives by Findley and Clint Mathis scooting wide.

The Galaxy were fortunate just to reach penalties.

Real needed a lot of help on the final weekend of the regular season to make the playoffs and they were discredited by some for having a losing record -- 11-12-7 -- during the regular season. They sneaked in as the No. 8 seed, then upset Columbus and Chicago to reach the championship, and became the second No. 8 seed to win the title, after Los Angeles pulled the trick in 2005.

They'll also be bringing home the first pro sports championship for the state of Utah since the Utah Stars won the ABA title in 1971.

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