For the first 57 minutes of Saturday's MLS Cup match, the Houston Dynamo were in total control of the defending champion LA Galaxy. They had a 1-0 advantage thanks to a Calen Carr goal just before the half, and they looked poised for a second.
Then Carr goes down with a knee injury when he inadvertently collides with Galaxy defender Omar Gonzales.
That's when everything changed.
That's when the Dynamo forgot the one fundamental rule to the game known the world over as football: don't use your hands.
In the 59th minute, Brad Davis was called for a handball near the Dynamo corner. The call gave one of the world's premiere set-piece specialists, David Beckham, a chance to level the score. His free kick was headed out of the box by the Dynamo, but they failed to come off their line. Galaxy defender Sean Franklin put the ball into the box, where an unmarked Gonzales headed home the equalizer for the defending champs.
The early equalizer completely changed the momentum for the Galaxy. Five minutes later, the Dynamo were again penalized for illegal use of hands. This time the culprit was Ricardo Clark, who was whistled for a hand ball inside the penalty box while attempting to stop a Mike Magee bicycle kick. While the Dynamo pleaded their case, referee Silviu Petrescu issued the penalty kick in favor of the Galaxy. Landon Donovan stepped up and softly put the PK in the back of the net to give his side the 2-1 advantage.
The Dynamo pushed the final 30 minutes to find the equalizer, bringing in Brian Ching and Giles Barnes as late enforcements. In the end, they just couldn't keep their hands to themselves.
In the 93rd minute, the Galaxy went on one last counterattack to put the game away. This time, it was Robbie Keane who went 1-v-1 with Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall inside the 18-yard box. Hall inadvertently brought down Keane with his hands, causing Petrescu to point to the penalty spot once more. Keane stepped up and finished off the insurance goal, giving the Galaxy their 3-1 MLS Cup victory.
For the second year in a row, the Dynamo were forced to watch Beckham and company have their Hollywood ending. They were left to sit in the visitor's locker room at the Home Depot Center wanting more.
As we said at the end of their 2011 MLS Cup loss, maybe next year will be their year.
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