MLS Cup is finally here and in a few hours, either the LA Galaxy or the Houston Dynamo will be crowned the champions of Major League Soccer for the 2012 season.
The Galaxy have the chance to win their fourth MLS Cup in franchise history and Bruce Arena has the chance to be the first coach to win four MLS Cups as well as first to win back-to-back titles with two different teams. If Houston wins, it will be Dominic Kinnear's third MLS Cup and he'd join Arena as the only coaches to win three MLS Cup titles.
*The match will be the final game for David Beckham with the LA Galaxy and on Thursday, he addressed the end of his Galaxy career.
*The head coach at the start of Beckham's time in MLS, Frank Yallop addressed the hoopla that surrounded Beckham's first year in MLS.
*Beckham will be matched up against the talented Brad Davis, who the Englishman is quick to label one of the "great" players in MLS.
*Despite the praise from Beckham, Davis was quick to say that Houston is not distracted by the fact the match is David Beckham's final game.
*There are no injury concerns for LA as Marcelo Sarvas has declared himself fit for tonight's match.
*Tommy Meyer will face off against his old friend Houston forward Will Bruin and in my feature of the week, I chronicle Meyer's rise from St. Louis to MLS Cup.
*During his press conference on Friday, Robbie Keane declared that he is incredibly pleased to be in Southern California and committed his future to the Galaxy.
*For your listening pleasure, listen to Joe Tutino's conversations with Bruce Arena and Edson Buddle in the latest editions of the All-Access Podcast.
*For a more general look at the game, read LAGalaxy.com staff writer Larry Morgan's preview of the match.
MATCH UPS TO WATCH:
ROBBIE KEANE VS. BOBBY BOSWELL
*For my money, the match up of the game, Boswell was fantastic against D.C. United in shutting down their attack, but he'll face Robbie Keane , who has scored five postseason goals to date.
DAVID BECKHAM'S SET PIECES VS. BRAD DAVIS' SET PIECES
Two of the finest strikers of a set piece in MLS, expect the game to turn based on a strike by one of these two.
TODD DUNIVANT VS. BONIEK GARCIA
Dunivant will have his hands full dealing with the talented Honduran who has been a nuisence for opposing defenses this year. Expect Dunivant to look to frustrate the Honduran with high pressure early and often.
BRUCE ARENA VS. DOMINIC KINNEAR
Arguably the two best head coaches in MLS history and the only coaches to win back-to-back MLS Cup titles. Kinnear was the last to do so in '06-'07 and he'll be eager to prevent Arena from going back-to-back for a second time.
PREDICTED LINEUP: Saunders; Franklin, Gonzalez, Meyer, Dunivant; Wilhelmsson, Juninho, Beckham, Magee; Donovan, Keane
The LA Galaxy will go for back-to-back MLS Cup titles this evening against the Houston Dynamo at 1:30 p.m.
LA will have their hands full with a much improved Dynamo side that boasts a number of weapons including Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis as well as tenacious midfielder Ricardo Clark. In my Three Points to the match, I break down how the Galaxy will be able to defeat Houston.
Check out my Three Points below...
We're just hours away from MLS Cup 2012 between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center
For those that are attending the game, which begins at 1:30 p.m. be sure to heed this important gameday information.
*Parking Lots opened at 7 a.m. and are expected to start filling up soon.
*Gates open at 11 a.m.
*Umbrellas are not allowed at The HDC so fans are encouraged to wear jackets depending on the weather.
*Fans who decide not to park at The HDC can park at South Bay Pavilion and Artesia Transit Center then travel to the stadium on special shuttles. The shuttles begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5:30 p.m.
CARSON, Calif. -- Make no mistake, Robbie Keane is loving his time in Los Angeles.
Keane has played a key role in the Galaxy's run to MLS Cup by tallying five goals n the postseason after finishing the regular season with 16 goals and nine assists en route to an MLS First XI selection. Ahead of his second straight final in less than two years, the Irish forward declared that he's pleased to be a member of the Galaxy.
"I'm really enjoying my time here, and as long as I keep enjoying myself and as long as I keep letting my football do the talking I'll be very happy to stay," said Keane. "I look forward to a number of years here.
"I'm very happy and very content here," Keane added. "When you're playing in a team like this and getting to championship finals every year, for me this is the second year in a row, so that certainly does help."
The Irishman was quick to admit that he has become so integrated with the Galaxy that he is not considering an offseason loan.
"It isn't something I've even thought about to be honest with you," he said. "My main focus now is tomorrow's game and let's see how I feel, but for now my first prerogative is the LA Galaxy and that will always be the case."
CARSON, Calif. -- Much of the talk around MLS Cup 2012 has centered around the fact that David Beckham will play his final game for MLS, but that talk has not reached the Houston Dynamo locker room.
When questioned about the role that Beckham has played in the growth of Major League Soccer in his six year stint on Friday, Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear was quick to shoot down any thought that Dynamo were at all distracted by Beckham's departure.
“No, we’re not talking about David Beckham’s last game," Kinnear said on Friday. “We’re not dumb. We’re not blind and deaf to what’s going on around us. But our talk tomorrow is about 1:55 local time getting ready to play against these guys, not what they’re doing after the game.”
One of the Dynamo players quick to agree with his head coach was midfielder Brad Davis, who received plenty of praise from Beckham a day earlier.
“We’re all happy and thankful for what David has done, but that’s not what makes the world go round,” said Davis. “I was playing here before he came here, and hopefully I’ll be playing after he leaves.”
Check out a video of Houston's press conference below
CARSON, Calif. -- With just hours left before MLS Cup, there were no changes for the LA Galaxy on their final injury report before Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo.
Meanwhile, on the Houston side, both Ricardo Clark and Calen Carr were removed from the list, giving Houston a clean bill of health.
The complete injury report is below...
LA GALAXY -- OUT: DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: DF A.J. DeLaGarza (L knee sprain)
HOUSTON DYNAMO -- NONE REPORTED
CARSON, Calif. -- Marcelo Sarvas has won two consecutive championships -- with Costa Rican side Alajuelense -- but the Brazilian midfielder is an injury question mark ahead of Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo.
In an interview with Futbol MLS on Thursday, Sarvas revealed that he was suffering from an ankle injury, but according to the Brazilian, he participated in full training on Friday afternoon in the club's final session before MLS Cup.
"It won't be a problem, I trained normal today without pain so I will be fit for tomorrow," said Sarvas. "I had luck that we had a long week to recover...everything is okay."
During the interview, Sarvas admitted that the club has already received their orders and are ready for the championship.
"I'm feeling great, it's just a few hours from the match," said Sarvas. "We had a nice training, everyone seems very happy and we're all concentrated and ready for the game."
CARSON, Calif. – In an interview with Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke expressed in acquiring Brazilian international and 2007 World Player of the Year Kaká
The 30-year-old midfielder, who turns 31 in April has been at Real Madrid since moving to the club from AC Milan on an $84 million dollar transfer in 2009. Injuries have been an issue for the Brazilian international during his time in Spain, but he remains an integral part for the Seleção.
During the club's press conference on Friday afternoon, forward Robbie Keane addressed the idea of adding the Brazilian to the Galaxy next season.
"If we want as a team and as an organization push on and be the best that we can, to attract players like Kaká would be brilliant, but he's got big shoes to fill because obviously David is going. David has been a credit to the game and a credit to the Galaxy and the organization. We're certainly going to miss him, but we'd welcome any top players and someone like Kaká, who was only voted one of the best players in the world a few years ago, we'd welcome anyone with his stature and his ability to the Galaxy. Obviously, it's down to the boss Tim Leiweke and Bruce [Arena]."
However, Galaxy left back Todd Dunivant admitted that whomever replaces David Beckham faces a tough challenge.
"You're not going to be able to replace David, he's irreplaceable," said Dunivant. "AEG and the Galaxy doesn't go small when it comes to those sort of things and I'm sure they're going to sign a big player."
CARSON, Calif. – David Beckham will end his six year stay with the LA Galaxy on Saturday with three appearances in MLS Cup in his six years with the club. While LA have flourished over the last four years under the stewardship of head coach Bruce Arena, in the early days of Beckham’s arrival, things were hardly easy for the midfielder of the Galaxy.
In fact, according to then-head coach Frank Yallop, at times they were downright “wild.” From the outset, attention was overwhelming as the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star drew considerable press from around the world for his arrival in the United States.
"The first year, when I was here, was kind of crazy, to be honest," Yallop said Thursday. "Nobody knew how big he was globally. I had no idea. I had seen him on TV and met him once before signed, then all of a sudden he's here. I think it took everybody by surprise how popular he is. "I think Alexi [Lalas, the Galaxy's general manager in 2007] said it was a circus. It wasn't that far off.
"[The beginning of Beckham’s tenure] was wild," Yallop added "I've never seen so many photographers the first game [a World Football Challenge match against Chelsea]. There were 300 or something standing, we couldn't even get to the bench. They weren't taking photographs of us. I don't think we understood what it was all about, and when you're in it, it was like, 'Whoa.' Everyone's head was spinning. It was difficult to concentrate on soccer to be honest."
The Galaxy narrowly missed out on the postseason finishing the season with a 9-14-7 record with Beckham making five appearances after joining the club in July. LA’s strong finish to the season was not enough to save Yallop’s job as he was removed just days after the season and ultimately replaced by Dutchman Ruud Gullit.
The former Dutch International’s time in L.A. was no better as he too, along with Lalas were removed midway through the 2008 season in favor of Arena.
"Once Bruce got here to settle everything down and get back to playing soccer, which is what we're all here to do, and get a nice settled side,” said Yallop. “Landon's playing well and the addition of Robbie Keane was fantastic. They've done a great job here. They're a good side, and for me, David now settling in and going through his last game in MLS, it's been a great story."
Fast forward six years and much has changed for both Beckham and Yallop. Beckham has played a key role in LA’s four consecutive postseason appearances since the 2009 season and will play his final game in Saturday’s MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo.
After departing the Galaxy, Yallop took over his old post at the San Jose Earthquakes and in 2012, he earned MLS Coach of the Year honors for leading San Jose to the Supporters’ Shield.
On Thursday, Yallop was on hand at The Home Depot Center to honor a key member of that 2012 San Jose team, forward Chris Wondolowski, who was awarded the 2012 MLS Volkswagen Most Valuable Player award. Although the focus centered on Wondolowski’s honor, Yallop admitted that he was pleased with the way that Beckham’s time in the Galaxy will be ending and his role in its infancy
"If you look at before David came, I don't think [MLS] coverage was as big. I don't think the interest from non-soccer people was as high. As soon as he joined, it was a massive spike in everything, from people being interested in knowing the Galaxy brand to filling stadiums to getting people aware of the game,” said Yallop. “Talk about a fantastic move by [AEG president and CEO] Tim Leiweke and the group here, but a brave move from David as well. It was a big move. He was at the top of his game when he came here, and I think that was a brave move. It's worked out well for everybody, and you have to commend him for doing it. I'll never regret coming and being part of that for sure. You live and learn, and maybe that type of thing is not for me, but I really enjoyed my time with the Galaxy and especially with David."
CARSON, Calif. -- With A.J. DeLaGarza still an injury question mark, LA Galaxy rookie Tommy Meyer seems poised to start Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo.
Meyer has been solid alongside center back Omar Gonzalez in central defense, starting the last nine matches including five MLS Cup Playoffs.
Ahead of Saturday, check out my feature on Meyer's rise from St. Louis youth club star to MLS Cup finalist.