BY ADAM SERRANO
The Los Angeles Galaxy will get to enjoy one of the greatest luxuries in professional sports. They'll get to play the final, at their own stadium and in front of their own fans.
The Galaxy will face the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup Final at the Home Depot Center on November 20th. The HDC has been the Galaxy's fortress this season as the club has gone unbeaten at home this season with an impressive 17-0-5 record in all competitions.
One of those wins being against the Dynamo, who they defeated 1-0 on May 25th Despite their strong record, the Galaxy admit that there was a great deal of pressure on them to reach the final at their home venue.
"It wasn’t the most comfortable feeling knowing we were going to host the final and go through this season," said head coach Bruce Arena. "This has been one heck of a battle…and now to move into the final, which I must tell you there was a little bit of pressure on us to get there which is kind of a remarkable feat by this group. They deserve to be in the final and now we know that we’ve got to bring it and play our best if we want to hold the trophy on the 20th."
MAGEE CONTINUES HOT STREAK
His own head coach attributed his success to the "luck of the irish", but Mike Magee has simply been getting the job done with well-timed runs and clinicial finishing.
Magee will take part in his third final in four years after scoring the game winning goal — his third goal in three games — to help the Galaxy advance to the league championship. For all three of his playoff goals, Magee has been the recipient of service from David Beckham, whose crosses have found the Galaxy midfielder each time.
Enjoying the finest season in his career, one that has seen him rise from squad player to cult hero among the Galaxy faithful, even Beckham can't help but dispense his praise to Magee for his current run of form.
"He's on fire. His dad said to me the other night, 'you keep finding his head' and he is right," said Beckham of Magee. "Hopefully it continues. We got, obviously, one more game to go and hopefully it continues. Mike knows how to get into positions, at the right places at the right times and he's done that so far."
KEANE AND BIRCHALL HEAD OUT FOR INTERNATIONAL DUTY
While most of the Galaxy enjoy some time off ahead of the Cup Final, two members of the club will head abroad on international duty.
Robbie Keane (Ireland), Chris Birchall (Trinidad and Tobago) will each head off to join their respective national teams ahead of matches this week. Birchall and Keane are expected to be gone until at least Nov. 16th.
Keane will join Ireland ahead of their vital fixtures with Estonia as the Irish look to qualify for the European Championships for the first time in nearly two decades. The forward flew on Monday morning to re-join the Ireland squad, who begin their two leg playoff on Friday in Talinn before hosting Estonia just four days later in Dublin. It is something of a shock for Keane to be heading off to join Ireland after appearing set to miss the countries' vital playoff when he injured his left adductor during a game in October against Andorra.
“It’s a massive, massive week,” Keane said. “My focus now is 100 percent on the Irish team as soon as I leave this dressing room, and it’s always been like that. I look forward to it and I’ll hopefully come back for the final with the Irish team in the European Championship.”
Meanwhile, Birchall will join Trinidad and Tobago for their World Cup qualifiers against Guyana as the Soca Warriors try to earn a spot in the semi-final round of CONCACAF qualifying.