November 23, 2009

SEATTLE ( -- Donovan Ricketts clumsily failed to knot his tie with his one good hand. Mike Magee coughed and wheezed his way through an interview. David Beckham admitted that the three injections given to his foot wore off 50 minutes into the 120-minute MLS Cup final loss to Real Salt Lake. Omar Gonzalez revealed an earlier groin injury.

The Los Angeles Galaxy made quite the sorry sight following the penalty shootout loss to RSL on Sunday night.

"We were dead," Magee said. "We had a couple guys injured and probably five guys cramping for the last 25 minutes of the game. When you play as many games at such a high intensity in the last three weeks as we did, it's tough for everyone to stay healthy."

Despite the ailments and colds, no one in the Galaxy locker room blamed illness for the penalty shootout loss. Real Salt Lake saw crucial midfielder Javier Morales (left knee) and Will Johnson (food poisoning) leave the game before halftime and faced the same cold conditions.

"Both teams had a few players under the weather, but that's all part of it," shrugged L.A. coach Bruce Arena.

Instead, most of the players looked dazed and bewildered by the gut punch of losing on penalties.

"I don't think we really lost," said Gonzalez. "PKs are a 50-50 chance."

"To lose on PKs, it doesn't even feel like a fair way to end a game," added Magee. "It's an extremely difficult way to lose."

As his younger teammates stammered out their thoughts on a cruel system for deciding finals, the experienced Landon Donovan took a philosophical approach.

"It's hard because you don't want to judge yourself based on one loss or one penalty kick shootout, but unfortunately that's what you're judged on in the end," said Donovan, who skied his penalty, a rarity for the usually cold-blooded finisher.

Arena found it difficult to blame penalties when his side didn't do enough to win the match in regular or extra time.

"The soccer wasn't that good at times," he admitted. "But, you know, we didn't play well enough over 120 minutes to win the game."

With the season now over, albeit in disappointing fashion, the team spared a glance toward next season. Following a disastrous 2008, Galaxy bounced back in 2009, finishing first in the Western Conference and making the run to the final of the MLS Cup.

"I want to come back next year and get the win that we were supposed to get tonight," Gonzalez said.

Again, Donovan took a more tempered approach.

"After the loss subsides a little I think we'll realize what a great year we had," he asserted. "We can build on this. Sometimes in life things happen that you can't understand at the time, can't explain. You certainly learn a lot more from a moment like this than you winning. Winning feels a lot better."

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