Galaxy’s season ends with a 3-0 loss to FC Dallas
Last March seems a long time ago now. Next March seems even more distant.
Because it will be March 2011 before the Galaxy plays another Major League Soccer game, its season coming to an abrupt, bitter and unexpected end Sunday night.
With the league’s Western Conference title on the line and a place in the MLS Cup final up for grabs, the Galaxy contrived to lose, 3-0, to FC Dallas in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000 at the Home Depot Center.
Goals by David Ferreira in the first half and by George John and Marvin Chavez in the second half were all it took to unravel eight months’ worth of work by Coach Bruce Arena’s team.
Dallas will travel to Canada to play the Colorado Rapids in Toronto on Sunday night in the MLS Cup final. Neither team has won an MLS title.
At the final whistle, when the knowledge that they would not be the 2010 champions was confirmed, the Galaxy players reacted in different ways.
David Beckham, a $26-million investment over the last four years and still with no title to show for it, put his hands on his hips and stared at the ground for a while.
Landon Donovan, who led MLS in assists in 2010 and is the league’s highest-paid American, swapped jerseys with Ferreira, easily the most creative and effective player on the field.
Edson Buddle, the league’s second-highest goal scorer this season, congratulated a handful of Dallas players, despite having been repeatedly fouled by them all game.
Donovan Ricketts, the MLS goalkeeper of the year, tore off his gloves and, after a while, headed for the somber confines of the locker room.
The Galaxy finished the regular season 18-7-5, the best record in the league. It defeated the Seattle Sounders home and away in the first round of the playoffs. But on Sunday night, it couldn’t handle a Dallas team that kept its composure and took its chances.
“We have no excuses,” Arena said. “We were outplayed. … Maybe a couple of calls didn’t go our way, but that’s part of it. … We were beaten on most matchups on the field, and we were out-coached. Dallas deserved the victory.”
If there were two players who made the difference, they were Ferreira, who opened the scoring floodgates, and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who made a series of top-class saves.
The Galaxy provided most of the early pressure, seeking a go-ahead goal but it was Dallas that scored it. Ferreira took a pass from Chavez, swiveled and fired the ball into the lower left corner of the net in the 26th minute.
Dallas was 11-2-6 during the regular season after taking a lead, so the Galaxy had a hill to climb.
Donovan scaled it almost immediately, getting behind the defense and sending a searing shot toward the lower right corner, but Hartman got a fingertip to the ball and turned it around the post. He later denied Beckham with another exceptional save off a free kick.
“He made the plays to keep his team in the game and ultimately it won them the game,” said Arena, who told his players to hold their heads high.
“After losing a game like this there’s going to be a lot of disappointment, but you can’t forget about the fact that they had a pretty good season. For the most part, it was a good year.”
Said Beckham: “We should have just played our football the way we’ve been playing all season, but I think we panicked a little bit [after falling behind] and we couldn’t get back into the game.”