MLS Cup Final Preview
The Home Depot Center will play host to the 17th Major League Soccer championship final this Saturday as the LA Galaxy take on the Houston Dynamo.
Galaxy, the reigning champions, go into the game on the back of a 4-2 aggregate win over the Seattle Sounders in the play-offs. The Galaxy have the added bonus of playing the final in their own stadium on the west coast of the United States, which is hosting the final for the fifth time. However, this year the Home Depot Center is being used as the ruling now selects the stadium based on the the best regular season record for each club.
The game is a repeat fixture of last years MLS Cup final, where a Landon Donovan goal sealed a 1-0 win for the Galaxy.
Historically this could be a huge game for the home side, LA Galaxy. A win would equal the 4 MLS cup record that D.C. United currently hold.
Houston also go into the final after a 4-2 aggregate win over D.C. United. Although, Houston can feel confident that they haven’t lost since their 2nd leg Eastern conference semi-final vs Sporting Kansas City, which was 0-1.
On the other hand, the Galaxy lost their Western conference final 2nd leg 2-1 to the Seattle Sounders, with their 3-0 home win helping their aggregate score out.
One story though has really dominated over the past week in the MLS. It is David Beckham’s last MLS and LA Galaxy game before he embarks on “one last challenge”, which is believed to be with French side, AS Monaco.
Beckham has played 102 games since his arrival to the MLS in 2007 and has scored 18 goals. The end of an era for the Galaxy, the league and the former England captain himself. Many would surely agree he has done a fine job in raising the league’s reputation and interest at home and abroad.
With Beckham looking to go out on a high and retain the trophy there is an added incentive for the Galaxy.
However, 34 year old Houston forward, Brian Ching is also set to bow out after the show-piece game. A former Galaxy player himself, Ching has made 155 appearances for the Dynamo since 2006, but is now ready to retire.
“Mentally you’re still capable, but physically you’re not capable,” Ching said before the final on Friday, “I don’t know if I’m capable of doing a full 90 at this level any more.”
Rumours having also been flying about regarding Landon Donovan’s future in the game, but one would assume these are a little preempt as he is just 30 and could quite easily still cut it in a top side.
The LA Galaxy are a hard side to break down, with Beckham sitting deep and Irish striker, Robbie Keane proving he’s still dangerous up front.
For Houston, Ricardo Clark and Brad Davis appear to be fired up, having missed out on the final last season and are the main threats to look out for. Davis’ set-piece ability has been spoken about, with Beckham stating “he’d prefer Davis not to play”. Davis was injured for Houston in last season’s MLS Cup final, and boss Dominic Kinnear says they “badly missed him”.
Will Houston Dynamo be able to spoil the LA Galaxy and David Beckham’s leaving party? It could be one of best MLS Cup Final’s in history, with two impressive sides ready to battle it out.
Did you know: Both sides automatically qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, having reached the MLS Cup Final.
Stowe Gregory – @stowegregory