MLS Cup: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake (Match Night Commentary)

MLS Cup: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake (Match Night Commentary)

Major League Soccer

MLS Cup: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake (Match Night Commentary)

By

2008_021_2Saltlake

The Los Angeles Galaxy will be going for its third MLS Cup title tonight against Real Salt Lake (8:50pm, ESPN/Galavision/Telefutura), which is appearing in its first MLS Cup Final.

The Galaxy, led by MLS MVP Landon Donovan and David Beckham, will look to build on a season that saw LA go from one of the worst teams in MLS to Western Conference champions.

Real Salt Lake will look to cap a dream playoff run that began when the club qualified for the playoffs on the final day of the season.

I will be providing commentary throughout the match so please feel free to follow along here. As always, you are welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action (Commentary is after the jump):

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FINAL– RSL hoists the trophy as Kyle Beckerman lifts it and sets off the confetti cannons and a celebration among the REal Salt Lake fans.

You have to admire how Real Salt Lake stepped up late in the year. After an inconsistent season that looked doomed to be one of unfulfilled potential, RSL came together late in the year and hit a groove that led them all the way to a title.

For LA, it came down to missing penalty kicks and not creating enough chances in the final.

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FINAL– How about the performance by Josh Saunders, coming in for the injured Donovan Ricketts? He stepped up and made some clutch saves. He probably deserved a better fate, but the LA PK misses were some poorly-taken kicks.

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FINAL– RSL's players have gone over to celebrate with a large and loud contingent of Real Salt Lake fans. This post-game ceremony is going to last a while.

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FINAL– Nick Rimando is named MVP of the match (Even though the ballots for MVP voting were picked up literally seconds ago. Looks like someone made that call downstairs). Findley got my MVP vote.

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FINAL– The Galaxy will rue the wasted opportunities, and Landon Donovan will have a hard time dealing with missing a penalty kick that could have won him his fourth MLS Cup title.

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FINAL– REal Salt Lake wins on penalty kicks, 5-4, to win its first MLS Cup title. The last team to qualify for the playoffs caps its dream playoff run with a penalty kick shootout victory against the heavily-favored Galaxy.

Robbie Findley, Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando led the way, while Robbie Russell capped a strong night with the biggest goal of his career.

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PENALTY KICKS– GOAL ROBBIE RUSSELL!!!! And REal Salt Lake has won the MLS Cup. WOW

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PENALTY KICKS– SAVE RIMANDO!!!! Stops Buddle. Russell for the win.

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PENALTY KICKS– GOAL WINGERT!!!!

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PENALTY KICKS– GOAL KLEIN. Now Wingert has to make his.

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PENALTY KICKS– SAVE SAUNDERS!!!! Williams hit it too softly.

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PENALTY KICKS– Williams to take it for the win.

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PENALTY KICKS– GOAL MAGEE!!!

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PENALTY KICKS– GOAL GRABAVOY!!

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PENALTY KICKS– DONOVAN MISSES HIGH. WOW!!!!

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PENALTY KICKS– SAVE RIMANDO!!!!! Stops Kirovski's bad kick.

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PENALTY KICKS– GOAL FINDLEY!!

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PENALTY KICKS– GOAL BERHALTER!!!

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PENALTY KICKS– GOAL Clint Mathis hit it to his left. 1-1

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PENALTY KICKS– GOAL Beckham. Hit it to his left. LA 1, RSL 0.

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PENALTY KICKS– Beckham will take the first PK for LA.

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END OF OVERTIME– Galaxy 1, Real Salt Lake 1. We are going to penalty kicks. Only one other MLS CUp final has been decided by penalty kicks, the 2006 final, which Houston defeated New England on penalty kicks.

WHo will take the kicks here? You figure Beckham, Donovan and Mike Magee will take three of them, with Klein a potential fourth and Buddle a possible fifth. RSL you have to think Mathis, Findley, Williams and Grabavoy will take them.

Who has the edge here? Nick Rimando was a penalty kick star in the Western Conference final, while Josh Saunders is a back-up who was forced into this match as a sub. Advantage Real Salt Lake.

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120th Minute– One minute of stoppage time.

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118th Minute– Donovan with a weak cross. He should have gone after the defender there rather than settling for a forced cross.

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117th Minute– RSL corner.

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114th Minute– This game has lost any sort of rhythm. Fatigue is setting in.

Berhalter with a BIG slide tackle to stop an RSL sequence.

I spoke to soon about the rhythm as RSL strung some good passes together there.

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112th Minute– Eight minutes left before penalties. Can LA create another dangerous chance? Can RSL?

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108thMinute– Looks like LA should have a corner after that sequence, but Kevin Stott awards an RSL goal kick.

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107th Minute– Beckham with a good long ball in, but nobody can get onto the end of it.

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106th Minute– And we're off (again)

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OVERTIME HALFTIME– RSL had the better of the play in that 15 minutes, but LA will pounce on the counter if Salt Lake gets too stretched.

Not much gas left in the tank on anyone on LA aside from Donovan.

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104th Minute– Russell has done a good job with Donovan tonight. He's been physical when he's had to be, and has been able to keep Donovan in front of him.

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103rd Minute– RSL corner kick.

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101st Minute– Mathis hits one that narrowly misses the near corner.

RSL is starting to control this game.

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100th Minute– Beckham with a bad foul on Beckerman, giving RSL a free kick from about 28 yards out.

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99th Minute– Nice sequence with Findley picking one off and running and Donovan chasing him down. Good energy so late in the game.

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98th Minute– FINDLEY WIDE!!!!!!!!!! What a great chance, but Findley sends it narrowly wide.

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95th Minute– Foul in the area on LA.

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95th Minute– LA corner.

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94th Minute– SAVE DELAGARZA, blocking a dangerous Findley shot.

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92nd Minute– Interesting shot of Beckham using an inhaler during the break. He's struggling.

Buddle with a nice turn and blast, but it's well high.

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91st Minute– And we're off.

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END OF REGULATION– Both teams were giving up too much space as they pressed forward for a winning goal. They each need to keep their shape and balance because both teams have players capable of burning you on the counter.

It will be interesting to see how Beckham holds up now. LA has used all its subs and Beckham will need to go 120 minutes with a bad ankle.

Will Donovan step up? Will Mathis step up?

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END OF REGULATION– Galaxy 1, Real Salt Lake 1. We're heading to a 30-minute overtime now.

Who's the favorite in OT? LA was showing signs late of finding a rhythm, but you have to like RSL if the game goes to PKs.

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94th Minute– Williams nearly finds Espindola with a long pass, but DeLaGarza comes up with a very clutch header to clear it out. RSL corner.

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91st Minute– Wow, Mathis nearly hit a super-long free kick into the top corner, but Saunders gets up to catch it.

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90th Minute– Saunders has looked solid since coming in for Ricketts. Hasn't shown any real nerves in this pressure cooker of a match.

Seven minutes of stoppage time. Fair after the Ricketts-Findley clash, and all the subs.

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89th Minute– Here comes DeLaGarza for Gonzalez.

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87th Minute– Omar Gonzalez is cramping up. If he has to come out you figure Franklin slides into the middle and A.J. DeLaGarza slides in at right back.

tonight's attendance is 46,011

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86th Minute– Findley puts in a dangerous cross but Saunders does well to clear it out with a sharp dive.

Donovan nearly finds Buddle with a nice pass but Buddle is flagged offside.

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84th Minute– Lots of action in the area for LA, but they can't put a shot on goal.

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83rd Minute– Rimando spills a save and nearly gives LA a golden chance, but nobody pounced on it.

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80th Minute– Who will step up in the closing minutes? Beckham? Donovan? Beckerman? Findley?

Beckerman fouls Beckham, long free kick coming. Beckham finds Buddle, but he can't get a header on goal.

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79th Minute– Chris Klein comes in for Birchall and Beckham is patrolling the middle now.

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77th Minute– Great pass by Beckham to Kirovski, which leads to an LA corner.

The corner is headed wide. LA needs to do better with its corners.

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75th Minute– Fabian Espindola comes in for Yura Movsisyan.

Donovan nearly got loose on a breakout but Robbie Russell knocked him down on a shoulder-to-shoulder.

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71st Minute– Movsisyan skies one into the stands, wasting a beautiful pass from Grabavoy.

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70th Minute– RSL with a throw-in.

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68th Minute– The corner is cleared out.

Ricketts left with a serious right hand contusion. He's the first starting goalkeeper to come out of an MLS Cup Final.

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67th Minute– LA corner, Beckham to take.

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66th Minute– Losing Ricketts is major, especially with RSL riding the momentum of that goal. Can the LA defense tighten things up?

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65th Minute– Movsisyan took a shot in the area and the deflected shot fell to Findley, who converted quickly to tie the score. Game on.

Donovan Ricketts is coming out of this match. Josh Saunders is coming in. That's a big blow for LA.

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64th Minute- GOAL REAL SALT LAKE!! Robbie Findley with the finish. RSL 1, Galaxy 1.

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62nd Minute– Buddle turns into an MMA fighter and manhandles Mathis, but doesn't get a card, or even a talking to. Odd one.

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61st Minute– RSL appeals for a penalty, but that was a good no-call by Kevin Stott.

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59th Minute– RSL's defense has looked a bit shaky lately, with Olave making a few questionable plays. They need the midfield to step up and hold the ball a bit to relieve some of this pressure.

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57th Minute– Olave fouls Donovan five yards above the arc and David Beckham will have a very good free kick opportunity. It's right in his wheelhouse.

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53rd Minute– RSL is in a tough spot, playing without two all-star midfielders in Morales and Johnson. Grabavoy doesn't have Johnson's work rate, but he can deliver a good pass.

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52nd Minute– Wingert comes in very hard on Beckham and draws a foul. Surprised a card didn't come there.

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51st Minute– Findley and Ricketts are okay now and we're ready to get back to action. Crisis averted.

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48th Minute– A nasty collision between Donovan Ricketts and Robbie Findley has both players hurt. Ricketts slammed his knee right into Findley's jaw as both went for a ball in the area. Both players are down.

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46th Minute– And we're back. Ned Grabavoy has come in for Will Johnson, who was apparently sick before the match.

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HALFTIME– Galaxy 1, Real Salt Lake 0. The game was pretty boring for most of it, but then Donovan and Beckham stepped it up and exploited RSL's defense.

Real Salt Lake will need to figure out a way to create more chances, something that won't be easy without Javier Morales. One issue for RSL is that Clint Mathis and Andy Williams are very similar players who have already begun to get into each others way. Unless they establish a better understanding of where they will be on the field, RSL will struggle.

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44th Minute– RSL will need to open things up even more now.

Beckerman has looked sharp today, but the rest of the midfield hasn't shown that much

Two minutes of stoppage time.

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42nd Minute– What a pass from Donovan, and Beckham fed Donovan, so they were able to unlock RSL's defense and Magee has always been a good finisher when given clear looks. I call him the poor man's Raul and he showed why there.

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41st Minute- GOAL GALAXY!!! And it's Mike Magee with the finish off a great pass from Donovan. Galaxy 1, RSL 0.

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40th Minute– OFFSIDE on LA. Donovan looked like he sp

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39th Minute– Birchall with the yellow for the challenge on Mathis. He's really not done well tonight and I can't help but think that Arena will replace him with Kovalenko if Kovalenko is healthy enough to give him minutes.

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38th Minute– Franklin has a clear look for a cross but instead tries to lay it back for Beckham. Arena will be sure to remind his players at halftime that they are also allowed to try and make their own plays.

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36th Minute– MAGEE WIDE!! A great buil-up from LA as Donovan lays off a pass to Magee, who sends his low drive just inches wide of the far post.

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34th Minute– RSL called offside again. They're a touch slow on releasing their passes, but LA's defense does a good job of stepping up.

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31st Minute– Dunivant with a turnover. LA's players need to avoid forcing the ball to Beckham in bad spots. They're trying too hard to feed him when they should be looking to a healthy and mobile Donovan.

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29th Minute– Morales has a left LCL sprain.

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29th Minute– Beckham with a great corner in, but Gonzalez can't put his look on frame.

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28th Minute– LA corner, Beckham to take.

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27th Minute– Finley nearly torches Berhalter, but the veteran defenders takes a good angle and cuts off a potentially dangerous chance for RSL.

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26th Minute- With Beckham hobbled and Morales out, this game has lost a lot of its offensive potential and the result is an uglier game than most were hoping for.

Nice intervention by Borchers to cut off an LA pass.

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25th Minute– Findley called offside. Nice pass from Beckerman though.

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24th Minute– Landon Donovan has been quiet so far. He hasn't had much of a chance because nobody is getting him the ball.

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22nd Minute– And it will be Clint Mathis coming in. He's done it before and this actually marks 10 years since Mathis played in the MLS Cup Final for LA against D.C. United (D.C. won).

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20th Minute– Morales can't shake off the injury and will need to come out.

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19th Minute– Morales looks like he's coming back in.

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17th Minute– Will it be Clint Mathis or Ned Grabavoy to replace Morales if he can't go? Mathis is a big-game player, but may not get the call here.

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16th Minute– Morales is hurt. That challenge hurt him and RSL may have to make a sub very early.

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15th Minute– Beckham steps into a challenge on Morales and is called for the foul. He's not shying away from challenges.

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14th Minute– Will Johnson with a hip-check on Donovan that draws a yellow card. Donovan is moving well, as opposed to the rest of the LA midfield.

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11th Minute– I know I picked LA to win this one, but the Birchall-Kirovski central midfield tandem isn't instilling a lot of confidence in that pick.

LA corner. Beckham to take.

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10th Minute– RSL free kick from distance. Morales floats it out.

RSL is having some success finding room to pass as Will Johnson and Williams float into the gaps in LA's midfield/defense.

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8th Minute– Beckham is pacing himself, he'll pounce when he sees an opportunity, but he's clearly limited tonight.

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7th Minute– Findley forces Berhalter into a tough play as RSL's passing looks sharp early and creates a chance.

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6th Minute– Birchall isn't off to a great start. If he struggles, LA will struggle because Morales and Beckerman will take full advantage.

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5th Minute– It's pretty clear early on that Beckham won't be running too much. Can Will Johnson keep tabs on him?

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3rd Minute– The word on Kovalenko is that he hadn't trained in a few days. Beckham is on the right flank in an attempt to give him more room to operate, and to get him and his tender ankle away from Kyle Beckerman.

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3rd Minute– Findley with a nice run and cross after a Birchall turnover, but nobody is there to convert it.

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2nd minute– Beckerman with the first hard tackle of the day.

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1st Minute– And we're off.

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PRE-GAME– For those interested, the betting line has Las Angeles at +110, Real Salt Lake at +235. For those of you who aren't degenerates gamblers, that means the Galaxy is the heavy favorite.

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PRE-GAME– We're going through some pre-game ceremonies at Qwest Field. Seattle has been a dream host for this weekend's festivities.

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PRE-GAME– Here are tonight's lineups:

LA GALAXY

————–Magee————Buddle———–

Donovan———–Kirovski————-Beckham

———————Birchall————————-

Dunivant—Berhalter—-Gonzalez———Franklin

———————Ricketts————————–

REAL SALT LAKE

—————Findley——-Movsisyan————

———————Morales————————

Johnson———————————–Williams

———————Beckerman——————–

Wingert——Borchers—-Olave———-Russell

———————-Rimando———————-

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