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A look inside MLS Cup '09: Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake

A breakdown of Sunday's Major League Soccer championship match at Seattle.

November 21, 2009

The MLS Cup :: Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake

THE MATCHUP

The all-time series between the clubs is as tight as could be. During the five years Real Salt Lake has been in the league, the teams have met 15 times and each has won five, with five draws, and Real has scored 24 goals to the Galaxy's 23. The Galaxy has not defeated Real Salt Lake since June 17, 2007, a 3-2 win at the Home Depot Center. Real has won two of the six meetings since, with four draws.

THIS SEASON

The teams met twice during the regular season, with Real Salt Lake coming away with a tie and a win.

* In the first meeting, May 6 at Rio Tinto Stadium, the teams played to a remarkable 2-2 draw. As the match entered stoppage time, it appeared as though Robbie Findley's 34th-minute goal would stand up. Landon Donovan then converted a penalty kick just after the 90-minute mark, to put the score at 1-1. Only a minute later, RSL converted a spot kick of its own to take a 2-1 lead, but just before the added time ran out, Mike Magee turned home a deflected shot for the final result. It was the third time in MLS history that three goals were scored in added time, and the second time two penalties came after the 90th minute, the last instance occurring on Aug. 6, 2000, in a 3-1 victory by the Chicago Fire against the MetroStars.

* In the second meeting, June 13 at the Home Depot Center, Real rolled to a 2-0 victory. Yura Movsisyan, a former Pasadena City College standout, put RSL into the lead in the 13th minute, then Nat Borchers scored six minutes into the second half. The victory ended the Galaxy's 10-game unbeaten streak, the third longest in MLS this season, and was one of only two road victories for Real during the regular season. The other was Aug. 29 at Kansas City, 1-0.

INJURY REPORT

The teams come into the final in good shape physically, with only one regular on either side listed even listed as questionable. Here are the official injury reports: GALAXY -- OUT: DF Julian Valentin (right foot fracture); FW Alecko Eskandarian (head); QUESTIONABLE: MF Stefani Miglioranzi (left groin strain). REAL SALT LAKE --QUESTIONABLE: FW Fabian Espindola (left ankle strain); PROBABLE: DF Jamison Olave (right knee); DF Chris Wingert (left adductor tightness)

QWEST FIELD

Qwest Field will be the eighth stadium to play host to the MLS championship game, and the first stadium to stage the MLS Cup for the first time since the 2005 final was played at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.

THE REFEREE

Kevin Stott of Chino will be the MLS Cup referee for a third time, having also presided over the 2001 and 2005 finals. Stott ran the middle in 20 games during the MLS regular season, whistling an average of 23.5 fouls per game, slightly higher than the league average of 22.9.

THE COACHES

* The Galaxy's Bruce Arena will be coaching in his fourth MLS Cup final, but his first in a decade, and has a chance to become the first coach to win three MLS Cups. In charge of D.C. United from the outset, Arena led that club to back-to-back victories in 1996 and 1997, before suffering a loss to Chicago in MLS Cup '98, his final MLS match before taking over the U.S. national team for nearly a decade.

* Jason Kreis of Real Salt Lake has the chance to become the fourth former MLS player to win an MLS Cup as coach. Kreis scored 108 goals, still fourth in MLS history, in a 12-year career with Dallas (1996-2004) and Real Salt Lake (2005-07).

Souce: MLS

MLS playoffs

Semifinals, two-game series, aggregate goals.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Semifinals Galaxy vs. Chivas USA * Galaxy 2, Chivas USA 2

* Galaxy 1, Chivas USA 0

Galaxy advances on 3-2 aggregate

Houston vs. Seattle * Houston 0, Seattle 0

* Houston 1, Seattle 0, OT

Houston advances on 1-0 aggregate

Championship * Galaxy 2, Houston 0, OT

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Semifinals Columbus vs. Real Salt Lake * Real Salt Lake 1, Columbus 0

* Real Salt Lake 3, Columbus 2

Real Salt Lake advances on 4-2 aggregate

Chicago vs. New England * New England 2, Chicago 1

* Chicago 2, New England 0 Chicago advances on 3-2 aggregate

Championship * Chicago 0, Real Salt Lake 0 Real Salt Lake advances on penalty kicks, 5-4

MLS CUP

* Sunday: Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake at Seattle, 5:30 p.m., ESPN

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