LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The Los Angeles Galaxy gave Landon Donovan a fairytale ending to a storied career Sunday, beating the New England Revolution 2-1 after extra time in the MLS Cup final.
Ireland international Robbie Keane scored the winning goal in the 111th minute as the Galaxy claimed a record fifth Major League Soccer title.
Donovan, the all-time leading scorer for both the United States and in Major League Soccer, announced he would retire at the end of the season in August – after he was left off Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad.
Keane, the newly named Most Valuable Player of the MLS regular season, endured a difficult afternoon at the StubHub Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, but came through when it mattered the most. He slipped in behind the defence – thanks to superb ball from Marcelo Sarvas – to slide a shot into the bottom right corner.
“It was a tough game,” Keane said. “I think there was a lot of nerves there, I think by both teams.
“I think we didn’t play as well as we know we can at home, but it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, we won, and we’re the champions again.” The Galaxy had seized the lead in the 52nd minute as Gyasi Zardes got on the end of a cross from Stefan Ishizaki and fired a left-footed shot past New England keeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
The Revolution equalised in the 79th as rookie substitute Patrick Mullins got free on the left flank and got the ball to Chris Tierney, who took one touch and slotted a shot past Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
“A lot of credit to New England,” Donovan said. “In a lot of ways they played better than we did today. They were terrific.
“There’s games that you play during the year where you’re not at your best,” he added. “We weren’t at our best today we know that. But in those moments you have to find a way to stay in it.
“We stayed in it, we waited for the play that we needed and we made the play.”
In becoming the first club to win five MLS Cup titles, the Galaxy made the Revolution the first team to lose five MLS Cup championship matches. Three of those defeats came at the hands of the Galaxy. Donovan became the first player to win six MLS Cup titles – four with Los Angeles in 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2014 and two with San Jose in 2001 and 2003.
He ends his playing career with 57 international goals and 144 in MLS play.
“I’m in a little bit of a daze to be honest,” Donovan said of playing his last game. “There is a lot going on. A lot of excitement, some sadness. There is uncertainty. And, just pure joy for this team and for what we did.”