CARSON, Calif. -- The Houston Dynamo will arrive at The Home Depot Center for Saturday's MLS Cup with a number of dangerous options in the midfield, be it Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark or Boniek Garcia and central to shutting down those Dynamo lynch pins will be LA Galaxy midfielder Juninho.
The Brazilian has been integral part of the Galaxy's run to the postseason, participating in all five of the club's MLS Cup Playoff matches this season while starting four. On Saturday, the Brazilian will need to be at his best again as he looks to shut down a Dynamo attack that has been clinically efficient on offense this postseason, notching eight goals to date.
"They've changed since last year. They have different players this year and good players in every position," said Juninho. "They have Davis back and that's very important for them so we have to be prepared. We are prepared for that and we're hoping to win again."
Injury concerns do linger for Juninho, however, as he has battled through an inflamed right Achilles for several weeks, but on Tuesday, head coach Bruce Arena affirmed Juninho is healthy and is expected to participate fully on Saturday.
There will be a familiar face on the other sideline as he will face off against another former Sao Paulo youth product, Houston midfielder Luiz Camargo. The two are old friends dating back to their teenage years and Juninho admitted that the discussions between the two old friends about the final have already begun.
"I've talked to him a few times last week and spoke to him about the final," said Juninho. "We're both excited. I hope that he's starting so that we can play against each other.
A few notes and links to get your morning started right...
*San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop was named 2012 MLS Coach of the Year. Yallop led the Earthquakes to the Supporters' Shield before falling in the Western Conference Semifinal to the LA Galaxy.
*Seattle Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson was named 2012 MLS Comeback Player of the Year. After a turbulent few years in Europe, Johnson scored 14 goals and notched three assists in 28 games for Seattle this season while helping them reach the Western Conference Championship for the first time in franchise history where they were defeated by the LA Galaxy. Johnson also made a return on the international stage, playing a role in two games for the U.S. National Team and scoring twice against Antigua and Barbuda.
*D.C. United President Kevin Payne has left the club after 17 seasons with D.C. to seek another job in MLS. Multiple sources including Soccer by Ives and the Washington Post are reporting that he is bound for Toronto FC.
*Still need tickets to MLS Cup? SB Nation blog LAG Confidential has three pairs of tickets to give away.
This Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo may be David Beckham's final game for the LA Galaxy, but according to MLS commissioner Don Garber, he could return to the organization as an owner.
During his state of the league teleconference on Monday, MLS commissioner Don Garber confirmed that interest exists between Beckham and the league for the 37-year-old midfielder to own an MLS club when he decides to retire. The MLS commissioner admitted that the only place that Beckham could not exercise his option was with a potential club in New York City, leaving an option open for investment in the Galaxy.
“There is a possibility for him to work with the league office to find ways to transfer that option into an opportunity in LA,” said Garber. “It is way too premature to even talk about that or to even speculate what that would look like, but that opportunity does exist, if it meets the approval of the league, who in essences holds that value. David holds the option and the LA Galaxy would need to be part of the discussion.”
The Los Angeles Times mused on this possibility last week after Beckham announced that he’ll play his final game with the Galaxy on Dec. 1 in the 2012 MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo.
In his press conference last week, Beckham reaffirmed his interest in an ownership stake in an MLS club.
“My commitment to the league since I came six years ago stays the same,” said Beckham. “I still want to be part of the league; I still want to be an ambassador for this sport in this country and around this country and that continues.”
Garber stated that there was “a lot of work to do to figure out how this option gets exercised,” but six years removed from Beckham’s signing, the commissioner admitted there are “no regrets” with the decision to offer Beckham the option to become an owner.
“At that time, remember where Major League soccer was. I believe we had 12 teams in the league. We had not yet had the television relationships that we have today. We had probably half the number of soccer stadiums and the league was just more immature,” said Garber. “What we were looking for was a long-term partner in building this league, someone who was committed to working with us in creating more value for everyone. That’s the role that David played. ”
Audio of commissioner Garber's complete state of the league address can be found here
The Houston Dynamo may not be arriving in Southern California until Wednesday, but the Eastern Conference Champions began their own preparations for Saturday's MLS Cup on Monday.
Following Houston's training session on Monday, head coach Dominic Dominic Kinnear, midfielder Brad Davis, goalkeeper Tally Hall, midfielder Boniek Garcia, forward Will Bruin and Dynamo President Chris Canetti addressed the media.
Video of the presser is below.
During his state of the league teleconference with media members on Monday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber told reporters that he plans to reach out to Landon Donovan as the LA Galaxy captain refects on his future following Saturday's MLS Cup.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times' Kevin Baxter, Donovan admitted that he'll take time to evaluate his desire to continue playing following Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center.
Garber's complete comments on Donovan are below.
GARBER: “I hope to spend a little time with Landon. I don’t think anybody who loves this game and is connected to U.S. Soccer or Major League Soccer doesn’t fully appreciate what contributions Landon has had on our sport in this country. He's arguably the best player in U.S. Soccer history, he started as a teenager and he's spent his entire life committed to the sport. I sympathize with what he’s experiencing in trying to soul-search and figure out what his future might hold on and off the field. Unfortunately for Landon, even more so than the Jordans and Gretzkys of the world -- or Messis of the world, frankly -- is that Landon had to be not only a great player, Landon also carried a lot of the promotional burden of growing the sport for a decade or more on his shoulders. He played during the day and had to promote it at night. That is tiring. I sympathize with that. I hope he can continue to help grow the league and the sport here. I want to do everything that we can, and everything that I can personally to help him figure out a right way to be able to do that."
Marcelo Sarvas has qualified for the Semifinals of FutbolMLS.com's Latino del Año.
The LA Galaxy's Brazilian midfielder crushed FC Dallas' Panamanian forward Blas Pérez in the quarterfinals stage, winning 79.83% of the vote while Perez won just 20.17%.
In the semifinals, Sarvas is matched up against Sporting Kansas City's Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza. The 26-year-old Honduran enjoyed a banner year for Sporting KC, appearing in 26 regular season games for Kansas City while also leading his native Honduras to the quarterfinals of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. On the other side of the bracket, San Jose Earthquakes' Honduran centerback Victor Bernárdez is matched up against his compatriot Houston Dynamo midfielder Boniek Garcia.
Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane were named to MLS’ Best XI on Monday during Commissioner Don Garber’s annual state-of-the-league address on Monday afternoon.
The Best XI includes Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, a back three of Sporting’s Matt Besler, SKC's Aurélien Collin, and San Jose Earthquakes’ centerback Victor Bernárdez. The midfield includes Donovan, D.C. United’s Chris Pontius, Seattle Sounders FC’s Osvaldo Alonso, and SKC’s Graham Zusi. And a forward line of Keane, New York Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry and Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski.
The Galaxy‘s strike partners enjoyed a banner year in 2012 with Keane scoring 16 goals and nine assists. The Irishman’s goal total was the fourth highest in MLS this season. Meanwhile, Donovan finished the regular season with nine goals and 14 assists – the second most in MLS.
With Keane and Donovan’s inclusion, the Galaxy have now had a total of 27 players on the Best XI. LA has had a player on the list the last five straight seasons and 12 times in MLS’ 16-year history.
CARSON, Calif. – The match up -- LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo -- and the location -- The Home Depot Center -- may be the same for the 2012 MLS Cup. But this isn’t the 2011 Houston Dynamo.
Gone is a team that relied on physical play in the box and devastating set pieces from midfield Brad Davis, only to be replaced by a team with a number of intriguing attacking dimensions. Whether it’s the success of forward Will Bruin, who has scored four goals this postseason or the return of tenacious midfielder Ricardo Clark, the Dynamo promise a serious challenge for the Galaxy.
But perhaps the biggest x-factor of all is Honduran Designated Player Boniek Garcia, who has shined in his first season in Houston making 22 appearances in regular season and postseason matches. During that time, the two-way midfielder has scored five goals along with seven assists.
Ahead of a week of preparation for Dec. 1’s MLS Cup, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena cautions that Garcia is just one of Houston’s many dangers.
“Boniek Garcia has arguably been their best player this year, not that there isn’t an argument for Brad Davis, Will Bruin and many others. Ricardo Clark as well, who has joined their team midyear,” said Arena. “But Garcia gives them a different dimension, a player that can run with the ball. Bruin is a goal scorer that plays in the penalty area on a full time basis.”
“Davis is Davis, a great passer of the ball on the run of play as well as on set pieces and they’ve gotten good play out of their back line and goalkeeper,” Arena added. “I think that Bobby Boswell in the D.C. series was outstanding so I think that they’re bringing a complete team in here for the MLS Cup for sure.”
CARSON, Calif. -- On Sunday, the LA Galaxy returned to the practice field with a near 90 minute session at The Home Depot Center ahead of Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo.
Bruce Arena offered these thoughts on the holiday break and Sunday's session: "I think it was a good break for our guys, obviously, it was a little slow getting back into things, but I think for the first day back, it was a good training session."
LA will train for the remainder of the week ahead of Saturday's Cup final.
A few other notes to get you through your Sunday evening....
*Just eight teams remain in the race for the NCAA's College Cup. In the Elite Eight, Indiana will travel to face North Carolina, Georgetown will host University of San Diego, Creighton heads to Connecticut, and Maryland will host Louisville. The winners will advance to the College Cup in Birmingham, Ala. which run from Dec. 7 to Dec. 9
*The Liga MX Apertura finals are set as Toluca will face Club Tijuana. Toluca defeated Club América while Club Tijuana bypassed Leon. Both Toluca and Club Tijuana now advance to the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League. Could we see a potential LA vs. Club Tijuana match up in the 2013/2014 tournament? It'd sure be a tantilzing one.
*Staying in Mexico, former Colombia and Pachuca goalkeeper Miguel Calero was hospitalized on Sunday after complications from a stroke. [Link in Spanish] Galaxy fans may remember Calero for making two saves in Pachuca's penalty kick shootout victory over the Galaxy in the 2007 Superliga Final.
*Take your last chance to vote for Marcelo Sarvas who is in the quarterfinals of FutbolMLS.com's Latino del Ano.
*MLS Commissioner Don Garber will announce MLS' 2012 Best XI during his "State-of-the-League" teleconference at 1 p.m. PT on Monday.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times' Kevin Baxter, LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan hints that the 2012 MLS Cup may be the final match of his illustrious career.
Donovan has discussed his playing future at length numerous times this year, but the Galaxy captain told Baxter that he'll take time to consider his future after Saturday's MLS Cup.
Perhaps the most intriguing factoid from Donovan's interview with the LA Times was this nugget -- while amassing 313 MLS appearances and 144 caps for the U.S. national team, Donovan has averaged a game every eight days for the past 12 years.
Read Baxter's piece below.