CARSON, Calif. – There may not be any team in MLS that’s less concerned about going into halftime down a goal than the LA Galaxy.
And sure enough, facing a 1-0 deficit at the break in Saturday’s MLS Cup final, there was a quiet belief in the Galaxy locker room that the title was still theirs to lose.
“Obviously going down a goal at halftime and giving up a goal at the end of the first half is usually heartbreaking,” Mike Magee told reporters from the locker room after the match. “When we got back in here, there was just a sense of urgency. We knew we’d pull it off.”
According to Magee, there was an eerie quiet in the locker room until head coach Bruce Arena broke the silence with words of encouragement, remind them they’d been in this spot before. And from there, Magee said, “You just saw it in everyone’s eyes. Everyone was ready.”
To hear Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane tell it, they already had visualized victory as the first half ended.
“Me and Robbie were actually talking after, and said we didn’t really see any other outcome other than us winning,” Gonzalez said in the postgame press conference.
Keane saw it exactly the same way.
“You should have seen us at halftime,” he added. “We were fine. Just kind of catching our breath, getting a little bit reorganized and understanding that the first 15 minutes of that second half, we had to keep ourselves in the game. I told [the team] at halftime, ‘We get the first goal, we’ll win the game.’”
Added Landon Donovan: "From there, we just kept putting pressure and it felt almost inevitable that the second goal was going to come.”
And that was exactly the way the second half progressed. The Galaxy began picking up some steam about five minutes after the break and finally broke through at the hour mark when Omar Gonzalez headed in Juninho’s cross. Donovan added a penalty kick five minutes later and Keane iced the 3-1 victory with his own PK in second-half stoppage time.
“I think we just stayed calm,” said Gonzalez, “took it to them in the second half and it ended up going our way.”