Posted: November 22, 2009, 10:06 PM ; Updated: November 23, 2009, 1:46 PM
SEATTLE (AP) -- David Beckham limped badly, the pain from a bone bruise in his right foot piercing through three pregame injections. Landon Donovan angrily ripped off his armband after watching a penalty shot go sailing over the crossbar.
The image most expected of Beckham and Donovan holding the championship trophy of Major League Soccer for the league's marquee franchise was replaced by anger and frustration.
Instead, it was those upstarts from Real Salt Lake celebrating their first title.
Robbie Russell scored in the seventh round and the scrappy underdogs from RSL beat the star-studded Galaxy 5-4 on penalties Sunday night to win the league championship.
Russell's goal set off a wild celebration for Real while Beckham was left holding Donovan by the ears in consolation, telling the league MVP, "great season."
"It's Russian roulette," Beckham said of the penalties. "It's not a nice way to go out. It's just the way it is."
And it's a result Beckham and the Galaxy will have to accept after getting outplayed in the second half and overtime, then watching RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando make a pair of saves during penalties to clinch the title.
Rimando swatted away shots by Jovan Kirovski in the third round and smothered Edson Buddle's weak attempt in the seventh round to set up Russell's winning shot that beat backup Los Angeles keeper Josh Saunders.
A few thousand RSL fans that made the trip from Utah lined the railings around the field for 30 minutes afterward, sometimes chanting "Nick Rimando" -- who was named MVP -- while the players celebrated on the confetti covered field.
It was the second straight shootout victory for RSL, which beat Chicago 5-4 on penalties last week for the Eastern Conference championship. Rimando made three saves in the penalty shootout against the Fire and the game MVP came up big again in front of 46,011 fans, the fourth-largest crowd for an MLS Cup.
"It's nice to say we're the best team in the league," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "... My honest opinion is we deserved to win that game."
After Mike Magee scored in the 41st minute for Los Angeles off a perfect cross by Donvoan, the Galaxy's control of play quickly disappeared.
Donovan became a non-factor, as the league MVP was constantly hounded by the Real defense and never given space. The pain killers Beckham took before the game started wearing off early in the second half and his limp became more noticeable.
Meanwhile, RSL kept attacking. Robbie Findley scored in the 64th minute to pull RSL even at 1 and the peppering of the Los Angeles goal continued from there. They nearly scored again before the end of regulation, then missed a trio of opportunities during overtime: Findley's left-footed shot toward an open goal that was deflected away by Los Angeles defender A.J. DeLaGarza and drives by Findley and Clint Mathis scooting wide.
The Galaxy were fortunate just to reach penalties.
"I don't think all of them were out of gas," Real captain Kyle Beckerman said of the Galaxy. "But there were a lot of them gassing at the end."
In the shootout, Beckham scored first as the first four kicks went in order. After Rimando's save, Beckerman's shot was shoved aside by Saunders.
That brought up Donovan, who was 19 for 21 in his MLS career on penalty kicks, the only two misses saved. He tried to go high on Rimando, but sailed the attempt well over the bar.
"I just put it in the air," Donvoan said. "You know, it's probably partially due to tired legs and not concentrating in that moment."
Real had a chance to win it in the fifth round but Andy Williams' shot was saved by Saunders. Two rounds later, Williams was able to celebrate with Russell as RSL became the second expansion team in MLS history to win the title, joining Chicago in 1998.
"I just went with my gut. I went left, the ball went right. There's not much I can do," said Saunders, who replaced starter Donovan Ricketts in the 66th minute after Ricketts injured his right hand in a collision with Findley early in the second half.
Real needed a lot of help on the final weekend of the regular season to make the playoffs and they were discredited by some for having a losing record -- 11-12-7 -- during the regular season. They sneaked in as the No. 8 seed, then upset Columbus and Chicago to reach the championship, and became the second No. 8 seed to win the title, after Los Angeles pulled the trick in 2005.
They'll also be bringing home the first pro sports championship for the state of Utah since the Utah Stars won the ABA title in 1971.
"As somebody that watches, I really enjoy watching this team play when they're clicking," Kreis said. "So it has been fun for me. Today before the game, and really almost the entire game I was just smiling and having fun."
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