In a way it was a strange game, and in a way it wasn't. In the first half, the Los Angeles Galaxy dominated chances on goal 5 - 1 and yet trailed 0 - 1. Completely against the grain of play, David Ferreira found himself with space at the top of the box and a defender blocking Rickett's view. His strike rolled just to the right of Rickett's and it was past him before he could even make a move. That was all it took for Dallas one shot, one goal. Then in the second half the game started to look to those watching the way it looked to those just checking the score. Dallas came out with five shots on goal, two of them going in, which meant when Dallas was on target tonight there was a 60% chance the ball was going in which is just silly.
For comparisons sake, Los Angeles saw six of their on target shots fall into the hands of Kevin Hartman, with one attempt bouncing off the bar. Both of Edson Buddle's attempts went wide, one left and one right, as the Galaxy striker had a most frustrating night. While only on the record as suffering one foul, Edson was kicked in the head and started bleeding, had his jersey pulled, tugged, and was just generally mishandled all night. Bruce Arena said in his press conference that he believed Edson was the most fouled player all season, and this handling of one of the league's top goal scorers not being recorded on the scorecard speaks volumes about the MLS referees David Beckham is so fond of complaining about.
Not that Edson was the only one showing frustration on the pitch. Four Galaxy players went on the books with yellow card cautions, one of them, David Beckham, going on record for voicing his dissent on a controversial third Dallas goal. It was Beckham's contention that Marvin Chavez was offside, and he may have had a point. The other three Galaxians to go on the books were all for reckless tackles, Kovalenko, Birchall and Cazumba respectively. Chris Birchall and Alex Cazumba came off the bench trying to do too much too late, while Dema Kovalenko tends to rack up yellow cards like he really enjoys the color.
"We have no excuses," coach Bruce Arena said. "We were outplayed, we were certainly in position in the first half to get a lead and maybe take control of the game and [we] failed on that. I think maybe a couple calls didn't go our way but that's part of it. You play in this league and the officiating sometimes doesn't go your way. It's not different in our league or in any other league. We were beat on most matches on the field and we were out-coached. Dallas deserved the victory, and I give them a lot of credit and wish them the very best in the cup final."
When pressed to elaborate on how exactly he was out-coached, Bruce Arena said "Dallas 3 - Galaxy 0" in one final sarcastic triumph over analysis. David Beckham certainly wasn't one of the players outplayed in their matchup. His play on the pitch tonight was inspiring, as he anticipated passes that hadn't be made yet and just generally hustled all over the field. Landon Donovan as well showed moments of inspired play. However, for the most part, the Galaxy showed the side of this team which the media constantly dread will show up.
Supporters of FC Dallas should hold their heads high. They are the Western Conference champions in the same system which crowned a team from the West the Eastern Conference champion. The beer is flowing in the visitor's locker room and the jubilee flows just as freely. There is red confetti on the field at Home Depot Center, and people in gaudy red beer soaked t-shirts are enjoying a moment the FC Dallas franchise has never seen. Somewhere in the developing world a child will be outfitted with a LA Galaxy, Western Conference champions t-shirt, as 28,000 fans ask themselves when will it be our turn.
Not that they should be too discouraged. This is a franchise that has found a way to become a perennial winner in a league which values parity over anything else. The turmoil of the early Beckham days has been replaced with an expectation of winning. There are talks of changes to the playoff system next year, so it'll be exciting to see how that plays out. Regardless, the Galaxy have brought home silverware both of the last two years. It just hasn't been the piece of hardware associated with the title of MLS Cup champions.