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MLS Cup 2011, the 16th edition of Major League Soccer's championship match, was played between the Houston Dynamo and the Los Angeles Galaxy to decide the champion of the 2011 season. The match was played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California on November 20, 2011.[2] Los Angeles won their third championship, defeating Houston 1–0 off a 72nd-minute goal from Galaxy captain Landon Donovan.[3][4] David Beckham and Robbie Keane assisted the game's lone goal. With the win, the Galaxy became the first team since the Columbus Crew in 2008 to win both the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup in the same year.[5][6]

MLS Cup 2011
MLS Cup 2011.svg
EventMLS Cup
DateNovember 20, 2011
VenueThe Home Depot Center, Carson, California, US
Man of the MatchLandon Donovan
(LA Galaxy)
RefereeRicardo Salazar
WeatherRain and 53 °F (12 °C)[1]

For Los Angeles, it was a league-record seventh appearance in the MLS Cup final, while it was Houston's third appearance in the league final.[7] Both the Galaxy and the Dynamo qualified for the 2012–13 CONCACAF Champions League. The Galaxy earned their third successive berth, while the Dynamo earned their third ever berth in the Champions League and their first since the 2009–10 edition.

Road to the finalEdit

Los Angeles Galaxy Round Houston Dynamo
Western Conference
Team GP W L T GF GA GD Pts
Los Angeles Galaxy 34 19 5 10 48 28 +20 67
Seattle Sounders FC 34 18 7 9 56 37 +19 63
Real Salt Lake 34 15 11 8 44 36 +8 53
FC Dallas 34 15 12 7 42 39 +3 52
Regular season
Eastern Conference
Team GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
Sporting Kansas City 34 13 9 12 50 40 +10 51
Houston Dynamo 34 12 9 13 45 41 +4 49
Philadelphia Union 34 11 8 15 44 36 +8 48
Columbus Crew 34 13 13 8 43 44 −1 47
Opponent Result Legs Playoffs Opponent Result Legs
New York Red Bulls 3–1 2–1 home; 1–0 away Conf. Semifinals Philadelphia Union 3–1 1–0 home; 2–1 away
Real Salt Lake 3–1 3–1 home Conference Finals Sporting Kansas City 2–0 2–0 away

Los Angeles GalaxyEdit

Los Angeles Galaxy opened their playoff campaign on October 31, traveling to Red Bull Arena (above) to take on the New York Red Bulls. The Galaxy won 1–0.

Ahead of the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs, the Los Angeles Galaxy successfully defended the Supporters' Shield, winning it for the second consecutive year, and for the fourth time overall, tying D.C. United for the most regular season championships earned. The Galaxy became the third straight team to win back-to-back regular season titles.[8] The Galaxy earned the Shield on October 8, two weeks prior to the end of the regular season, and finished the season with a 19–5–10, posting the second total number of points (67) ever by a league premier.

As Shield winners, the Galaxy earned the benefit of playing the lowest seeded team to advance from the newly created wildcard round. In the Western Conference Semifinals, the Galaxy played the New York Red Bulls, who had the tenth best regular season record, which was the lowest seeded team in the playoffs. The first leg of the two-match, aggregate series began on October 30, 2011 with the opening leg being played at New York's Red Bull Arena. The opening leg ended with a critical away victory for Los Angeles, as the Galaxy earned a 1–0 victory off of a goal from Mike Magee. Following the match, controversy erupted after New York's Rafael Márquez threw the match ball at Los Angeles' Landon Donovan's ankles. Immediately, Márquez was confronted by Los Angeles' Adam Cristman and Juninho which caused some pushing and shoving, before several players on both sides attempted to break up the skirmish. Both Marquez and Juninho were subsequently red-carded, Márquez for throwing a ball at an opposing player, and Juninho for striking an opponent, who was New York's Stephen Keel.

On November 3, the second leg was played at the Galaxy's home ground, The Home Depot Center. With a capped seating capacity due to the match being played on a school night, only 20,000 seats were available. In the fourth minute, New York's Luke Rodgers tied the aggregate series at 1–1 and gave New York a 1–0 lead in the second leg. Magee once again scored against his former club in the 42nd minute, tying the match, and giving the Galaxy a 2–1 aggregate lead over the Red Bulls. In the 75th minute, Donovan scored off a penalty kick to give the Galaxy a 3–1 aggregate lead and 2–1 lead in the match, which ended in the final score of the match.

Upon victory, the Galaxy hosted the third-seeded Western Conference team, Real Salt Lake, in the 2011 MLS Western Conference Championship. The game, a rematch of the 2009 MLS Cup final, resulted in a 3–1 victory for the Galaxy.

The 2011 MLS Cup was the Galaxy's first MLS Cup Victory in regulation. The 2002 and the 2005 MLS Cup wins were won in overtime.

Houston DynamoEdit

During Houston's run to the MLS Cup final, the Dynamo picked up their first win at PPL Park (pictured above).

The Houston Dynamo spent the first half of the regular season in inconsistent form, finding themselves in a slew of playoff bubble teams. In mid-September, the club hit solid form and finished their final six matches with four wins, no losses and two draws. After finishing second in the Eastern Conference, Houston received a direct bye to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. As the second-seeded club, Houston was paired up against the Philadelphia Union, who qualified for the playoffs for the first time in their history.

Against the Union, the Dynamo posted victories in each leg of the two-match, aggregate series, winning the round by a score of 3–1. The first match, played on October 29 at Philadelphia's PPL Park, marked Houston's first road playoff win. Houston defender and Canadian international André Hainault scored the opening goal in the fifth minute of play, only for Philadelphia's Sébastien Le Toux to tie the match two minutes later. In the 30th minute, Houston's Calen Carr scored the go-ahead goal, which ended up being the game-winning goal. Goalkeeper Tally Hall made 10 saves, six in the second half, to preserve the win.

The second leg of the conference semifinals was played at Robertson Stadium, Houston's final match at the stadium due to the opening of BBVA Compass Stadium in 2012. The game's lone goal came from longtime Houston striker Brian Ching, who scored three minutes into stoppage time in the first half of play on an assist by longtime teammate Brad Davis.[9] It was Ching's sixth MLS Cup Playoffs goal, and his first playoff goal for the club since the 2007 MLS Cup Playoffs.[10]

Since Sporting Kansas City, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, defeated the Colorado Rapids in their conference semifinal, the Dynamo traveled to Kansas City, Kansas to take on Sporting for the 2011 MLS Eastern Conference Championship.[11] The two sides finished two points apart from one another during the regular season, as Sporting claimed the Eastern Conference regular season title after a 1–0 victory at D.C. United.[12] The match was played at Sporting's Livestrong Sporting Park, the same location where Sporting defeated the Dynamo 3–0 in regular season play on September 10.[13] The championship, however, played in Houston's favor, as the Dynamo posted a 2–0 victory at Kansas City.[14] Despite an injury to Davis, one of the finalists for the MLS MVP award, Hainault scored his second playoff goal in the 53rd minute, while Houston loanee and Honduran international Carlo Costly scored a buffer goal in the 87th minute to seal the club's third trip to the MLS Cup championship.[14]


The Home Depot Center, located in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, was the host venue for the 2011 MLS championship.

Venue selectionEdit

On the afternoon of May 10, 2011, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber announced that the Home Depot Center in Carson, California would host the MLS Cup championship.[15] The final, which became the fourth league championship held at the stadium, gave it the record for the most MLS Cup finals held. The last time the Home Depot Center hosted the MLS Cup final was in 2008, when the Columbus Crew defeated Red Bull New York.[16]

The Home Depot Center was the home ground of two Los Angeles-based clubs at the time, the Los Angeles Galaxy and C.D. Chivas USA.[15]


The match kicked off at 9:00 pm EST and was broadcast on ESPN for the third consecutive year, as well as Galavisión in the U.S. and on TSN2 in Canada. Additionally, it was aired during prime time for the third consecutive year.[17]

Match detailsEdit

Los Angeles Galaxy1–0Houston Dynamo
Donovan   72' Report
Los Angeles Galaxy
Houston Dynamo
GK 12   Josh Saunders
RB 5   Sean Franklin
CB 4   Omar Gonzalez
CB 20   A. J. DeLaGarza
LB 2   Todd Dunivant
CM 19   Juninho
CM 23   David Beckham   82'
RM 10   Landon Donovan (c)   90+4'
LM 18   Mike Magee
CF 14   Robbie Keane
CF 17   Adam Cristman   40'   57'
GK 1   Donovan Ricketts
DF 3   Gregg Berhalter
DF 6   Frankie Hejduk
FW 7   Jovan Kirovski
MF 8   Chris Birchall   57'
MF 26   Michael Stephens
MF 30   Paolo Cardozo
  Bruce Arena
GK 1   Tally Hall
RB 31   André Hainault   74'
CB 32   Bobby Boswell   13'
CB 20   Geoff Cameron
LB 4   Jermaine Taylor
CM 17   Luiz Camargo
CM 16   Adam Moffat
RW 5   Danny Cruz   78'
LW 26   Corey Ashe   84'
CF 25   Brian Ching (c)
CF 8   Calen Carr   66'
GK 24   Tyler Deric
DF 2   Eddie Robinson
MF 7   Colin Clark   78'
MF 10   Je-Vaughn Watson   84'
FW 12   Will Bruin
DF 21   Hunter Freeman
FW 29   Carlo Costly   66'
  Dominic Kinnear

Man of the Match:

Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)

Assistant referees:

Craig Lowry
Peter Manikowski

Fourth official:

Hilario Grajeda

Match rules

  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra-time if necessary.
  • Penalty shoot-out if scores still level.
  • Seven named substitutes.
  • Maximum of three substitutions.
The scene in the Home Depot Center prior to the start of the match


Overall [18]
Statistic Los Angeles Galaxy Houston Dynamo
Goals scored 1 0
Total shots 14 8
Shots on target 3 1
Saves 5 2
Corner kicks 7 1
Fouls committed 10 13
Offsides 2 5
Yellow cards 3 2
Red cards 0 0


  1. ^ "2011-11-20: LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo, MLS Cup". November 20, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  2. ^ "Home Depot Center selected as MLS Cup 2011 host". MLS Soccer. May 9, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  3. ^ "Beckham refuses to be drawn on his future after helping LA Galaxy to MLS Cup glory". Daily Mail. November 21, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  4. ^ "David Beckham wins MLS title with LA Galaxy but stays quiet on future". BBC Sport. November 21, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  5. ^ "Dynamo 0, Galaxy 1". ESPN. November 20, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  6. ^ "Landon Donovan's strike gives L.A. Galaxy MLS Cup crown". Washington Times. November 20, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  7. ^ "2011-11-20: LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo, MLS Cup". November 20, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  8. ^ "LA Galaxy Win 2011 Supporters' Shield". Los Angeles Galaxy Communications. October 8, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  9. ^ "Houston Eliminates Philadelphia Union" (Print). The New York Times. November 5, 2011. pp. B12. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  10. ^ "Houston Dynamo 1–0 (3–1 agg.) Philadelphia Union: Brian Ching goal helps Dynamo to Eastern Conference final". USA. November 3, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  11. ^ Lovell, Darrell (November 4, 2011). "Houston gear up for quick turnaround against Sporting". Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  12. ^ Lee Rig, Zac (October 22, 2011). "D.C. United 0–1 Sporting Kansas City: KC finishes top of the Eastern Conference". USA. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  13. ^ Whisenhunt, Josh (September 10, 2011). "Recap: Sporting down Houston Dynamo 3–0". Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Wiebe, Andrew (November 6, 2011). "Recap: Dynamo stun Sporting KC 2–0, return to MLS Cup". Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  15. ^ a b Borg, Simon. "Home Depot Center selected as MLS Cup 2011 host". Major League Soccer. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  16. ^ Becker, Josie (May 10, 2011). "Los Angeles To Host 2011 MLS Cup Final". SB Nation Los Angeles. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  17. ^ Carrick, Buzz (August 9, 2011). "2011 MLS Cup Playoff dates and schedule". 3rd Degree: An FC Dallas Blog. ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  18. ^