2011 Club by Club
New England Revolution
New York Red Bulls
Real Salt Lake
San Jose Earthquakes
Sporting Kansas City
It might not be surprising that a squad featuring arguably the two best players in the history of the English and American national teams – David Beckham and Landon Donovan – could repeat as Supporters’ Shield-bearers. Add in arguably the greatest striker in the history of the Irish national team, and an MLS Cup title seems like the next logical step.
The 2011 Galaxy took that step, becoming the sixth team in league history to take both the Shield and the MLS Cup in the same season. Landon Donovan scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the title game at The Home Depot Center in front of a partisan crowd of 30,281, assisted by fellow Designated Players Beckham and Robbie Keane.
LA consistently found ways to scrape a result. After dropping a 2-1 result to the 2010 MLS Cup finalists FC Dallas on May 1, the Galaxy would not lose another game for over three months.
As impressive as LA’s performances had been, however, the league-leaders weren’t going to rest on their laurels. On August 15, the team announced they had agreed to terms with Keane, scorer of 51 goals for his country and 123 in the Premier League. By October 8, the Galaxy had secured a second-straight Supporters’ Shield, and would ultimately finish four points ahead of the next-best Seattle Sounders after finishing their campaign 1-2-0.
The mini-slump wouldn’t last into the playoffs, however. Facing the vaunted New York Red Bulls in the first round and their star striker Thierry Henry, the Galaxy’s league-best defense shone through to hold their cross-coast rivals goalless in a 1-0 road win in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals. Though the Red Bulls’ Luke Rodgers would make it interesting in the second leg of the series by knotting the score early, LA would ultimately prevail with a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Next up was LA’s 2009 MLS Cup nemesis, Real Salt Lake, who had just completed a thrilling series with the Sounders. Once again, the Galaxy proved their quality in a 3-1 rout at HDC.
Heading into the 2011 MLS Cup final, all that stood between LA and the championship was the Houston Dynamo, and Donovan’s goal dispatched that final hurdle in the 72nd minute to vault the Galaxy into the discussion for the best team of all time.