The LA Galaxy got the result they needed in the second-leg of the Western Conference Championship on Sunday night, losing 2-1 at the Seattle Sounders but advancing to MLS Cup thanks to Juninho’s 54th-minute away goal that tied the series 2-2 on aggregate.
Marking a record ninth appearance in the final, the Galaxy will now host the New England Revolution on December 7 in their bid to claim a third title in four seasons, but they may never have got there were it not for the role Manchester United played.
Back on July 24, Bruce Arena’s side were walloped 7-0 in Louis van Gaal's first game as United boss in the Chevrolet FC Cup at the Rose Bowl and, while the result was ultimately meaningless, several member of the LA squad believe the embarrassment from that night was the spark which ignited their season.
Starting with a 3-0 victory over the Sounders, the Galaxy would go on to win 12 of their remaining 17 regular-season games to seal a second-place finish in the Western Conference, before downing both Real Salt Lake and Sigi Schmid’s outfit again, to leave them on the brink of a record fifth championship.
It was embarrassing and we just turned a corner," defender A.J. DeLaGarza told the club’s official website.
"Every year there is a game that turns everything around...it happened to Omar [Gonzalez] and I in college, it happens to us here."
The soon-to-retire Landon Donovan added: "We don't put much stock into the final score, but we didn't play well and it hurt.
“When we play well and lose then we can live with that and Bruce [Arena] can live with that. But when we lose and don't play well then that is unacceptable."
However, captain Robbie Keane, who expressed some choice words following the United loss, doesn’t quite share his teammates’ belief.
"I literally haven't thought about Manchester United since that game," he said. "I don't pay any mind to preseason games, and it's even less when it's not our own preseason."
Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that the Galaxy’s form improved considerably since the United match, and they could be set to make history this coming weekend if they can overcome a strong Revolution side, fresh off defeating Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls.