By Ollie Irish
Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman was the hero at the Home Depot Center on Sunday, making a string of crucial saves as David Beckham’s MLS Cup dream was ended for another season – and again with the Cup close enough for Becks to touch. See, when it mattered, LA failed to play as a team. Dallas nailed that part. But it didn’t help LA when Beckham tweaked his groin very early in the game.
With this win, Dallas advance to an underdog final against Colorado Rapids (who beat San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Championship) this Sunday in Toronto – it’s not exactly a glamour tie, nor a match-up that anyone saw coming, but it’s a great story for both clubs. FC Dallas really struggle to generate media interest in a city dominated by Cowboys and Mavericks, so I hope this achievement helps boost the club’s profile and support base. Ditto Colorado. And who’s going to win? Toss a coin. Dallas will start favourite, but underdogs seem to love the MLS Cup.
PS. This must be some kind of karma for Hartman, who was taken out somewhat callously by Thierry Henry a few weeks back. The 36-year-old goalie, cast off by Kansas City last season, is having a brilliant campaign, setting a new record for average goals conceded per game in the regular season. Frankly, it’s players like Hartman – not the superstars – who make MLS interesting.
PPS. What now for David Beckham and Landon Donovan? Beckham needs to continue his rehab, but he may be tempted by short-term contract offers from the likes of West Ham and Leicester City. As for Donovan, another loan spell at Everton makes perfect sense – and this time, with Everton struggling in the Premier League, they probably need LD more than he needs them.