The 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs culminate with the final today in Seattle between the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake. This is truly a David vs. Goliath matchup, with Real Salt Lake having backed into the playoffs as the final seed in the Eastern Conference and upsetting the top 2 teams, Columbus and Chicago, in the East on the road. Meanwhile, the Galaxy were the #1 team in the Western Conference, and dispatched of Chivas USA and the Houston Dynamo in the playoffs.
LA enters this match with a few injuries, most notably to the ankle of David Beckham. While Beckham says he will play in the final, he has been receiving injections to the bone bruise in his ankle to help deal with the pain, and he hasn’t practiced much this week. Still, Beckham is a gamer and surely will not miss his chance to play in what could be his only MLS Cup final. Also, with Landon Donovan in top form, the LA Galaxy will be ready for the challenge from the upstart RSL side.
Real Salt Lake is on fire right now, led by the incredible heroics of their keeper, Nick Rimando, in the playoffs, especially the Eastern Conference Final against Chicago. Rimando has been in the MLS Cup before, back in 2004 with DC United, and he provides the experience this young talented team needs to be a formidable matchup to the experienced Galaxy. Kyle Beckerman, the captain, has been excellent in the playoffs and would love nothing more than to cap his breakout season by hoisting the MLS Cup.
In front of over 40,000 fans at Qwest Field in Seattle, this game is sure to be a great finish to what has been an outstanding MLS Playoffs. While both teams have a chance of winning this game, I think that it’s Donovan who proves to be too much for Real Salt Lake in the end. His killer instinct in MLS Cup finals (3 titles in 3 chances with LA and San Jose) will be the difference as he carries LA to the title.
Life in 1-1-8 Prediction: LA Galaxy 3, Real Salt Lake 1.