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MLS Cup 2009


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Originally published November 22, 2009 at 9:57 PM | Page modified November 23, 2009 at 1:46 AM

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Real Salt Lake wins MLS Cup on penalty kicks

It all came to a fantastic finish with Robbie Russell's conversion, giving underdog Real Salt Lake a 1-1 (5-4 on penalties) upset victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy and setting off a wild celebration for the team that was the hottest in the league at a time when it counted the most — the playoffs.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Losing record

11-12-7

Real Salt Lake's regular-season record, fifth best in West

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Fitting, somehow, that on the last night of pro soccer for 2009 in soccer-crazy Seattle, the fight for the right to be called champion of Major League Soccer came down to penalty kicks after 120 minutes of full-field action.

It all came to a fantastic finish with Robbie Russell's conversion, giving underdog Real Salt Lake a 1-1 (5-4 on penalties) upset victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy and setting off a wild celebration for the team that was the hottest in the league at a time when it counted the most — the playoffs.

Russell was the seventh shooter for RSL after two saves for Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders and two for Salt Lake's Nick Rimando, plus a surprising miss over the net by the Galaxy's Landon Donovan. As his shot found nothing but net, Russell dropped to his knees and turned to see his jubilant teammates racing toward him.

"Just so happy," Russell said after the game, a medal draped around his neck. "This club really deserves it...the way we played these last four or five games really shows the kind of football we can play. I'll always remember that moment. There's no way to describe it."

A crowd of 46,011, mostly Sounders FC fans, turned out for one last match on their team's home pitch, and were treated to a classic between the two teams. Thousands of fans in rave green on hand to say goodbye to the inaugural season, part of the fourth-largest attendance for a Cup final, stood and made noise for much of the match. They witnessed RSL, a five-year-old franchise, capture its first-ever league MLS Cup and were in full throat during the penalty-kick phase.

Before the overtime dramatics, the Galaxy struck first thanks to its superstars, as midfielder David Beckham and Donovan assisted on Mike Magee's goal in the 41st minute.

But Real Salt Lake, the fourth and last seed from the Eastern Conference that took a hard road to the final, rallied in the 64th minute, hanging tough despite being knocked around by the Galaxy's physical defenders. All of the hard fouls and effort paid off when forwards Robbie Findley and Yura Movsisyan worked the ball into the Galaxy box and, in trying to shoot on goal, their kicks led to a carom to Findley, who beat L.A. goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to tie the score.

"We had plenty of time to get another one back," Findley said.

Ricketts, his right hand badly bruised in a collision early in the second half, left the game moments later, replaced by backup Saunders.

Real Salt Lake lost midfielder Javier Morales to a left knee sprain in the first half.

Real Salt Lake, which didn't lose to the Galaxy in both regular-season meetings (a win and a draw) got the match into a pair of 15-minute extra time periods. It was the sixth time in the 14-year history of the MLS Cup that the final went into extra time, and for the Galaxy it was the fifth of its six final appearances that added time was involved.

The MLS Cup final went into penalty kicks for just the second time ever. The first four shooters, two from each team, converted, including Beckham. Then came back-to-back saves, followed by Donovan's gaffe, which proved to be most costly.

"I just put it in the air," a downcast Donovan said. "It was probably partially due to tired legs and not concentrating at the moment."

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

REAL SALT LAKE 1, GALAXY 1 (Salt Lake 5-4 SO)

Real Salt Lake 0 1 0 — 1
Los Angeles 1 0 0 — 1
First half — 1, Los Angeles, Magee 3 (Donovan, Beckham), 41st minute. Second half — 2, Real Salt Lake, Findley 13, 64th. Shootout Los Angeles 4, Beckham (Goal), Berhalter (Goal), Kirovski (Saved), Donovan (High), Magee (Goal), Klein (Goal), Buddle (Saved); Real Salt Lake 5, Mathis (Goal), Findley (Goal), Beckerman (Saved), Grabavoy (Goal), Williams (Saved), Wingert (Goal), Russell (Goal). Goalies — Real Salt Lake, Nick Rimando; Los Angeles, Donovan Ricketts. Yellow cards — Johnson, Real Salt Lake, 14th; Birchall, Los Angeles, 39th. Referee — Kevin Stott. Assistant referees — C.J. Morgante. Robert Fereday. 4th official — Baldomero Toledo. A — 46,011 (32,400).

LINEUPS

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Russell, Nat Borchers, Robbie Findley, Will Johnson (Ned Grabavoy, 46th), Yura Movsisyan (Fabian Espindola, 75th), Jamison Olave, Javier Morales (Clint Mathis, 22nd), Andy Williams, Chris Wingert.

Los Angeles — Donovan Ricketts (Josh Saunders, 66th), Landon Donovan, Gregg Berhalter, Mike Magee, Todd Dunivant, Omar Gonzalez (A.J. DeLaGarza, 89th), Chris Birchall (Chris Klein, 79th), David Beckham, Sean Franklin, Edson Buddle, Jovan Kirovski.

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