29 November 6:57 pm

CARSON, Calif. – For the LA Galaxy to win their fourth MLS Cup title, they’ll need another strong game from goalkeeper Josh Saunders.

Throughout the playoffs, Saunders has been quite solid as LA has conceded four goals in five postseason games. Where Saunders has been particularly vital has been his presence in the box and his willingness to grab crosses to end his attack. With the Houston Dynamo particularly skilled at wide play, Saunders’ presence in the box could have a huge impact for LA.

Ahead of his second straight MLS Cup and his third appearance in four years, the Galaxy back stop is ready for the challenge.

“I’m feeling good physically so I’m just approaching the game like every game that we have, I’m trying not to get too caught up in what the game is,” said Saunders. “I had some good preparation this week and I was able to reflect with family last week for Thanksgiving and that was kind of nice so I’m ready for the game.”

On the other side of the field, Saunders and the Galaxy will face a talented Houston club that is supported by talented goalkeeper Tally Hall. The 27-year-old was originally drafted by the Galaxy in 2007, but enjoyed his finest season to date in 2012 as he set a career-high for wins (14) and shutouts (12).

But Saunders is well-aware that Hall isn’t the only weapon that the Dynamo will bring to the table on Saturday.

“[Hall’s] a great goalkeeper, he’s done very well for his team and I expect a good game out of him,” said Saunders. “Will [Bruin] has done very well for himself and they’re a dangerous team going forward, they attack from the width with their outside backs so we have to watch out for that.”

29 November 5:19 pm

CARSON, Calif. – David Beckham addressed around 125 members of the media on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s MLS Cup 2012, his final match for the LA Galaxy and in Major League Soccer.  

Beckham spoke to the media for nearly half an hour touching on a number of topics ranging from the comedic to Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis and everything in between.

“It’s been a quiet week as you can imagine,” Beckham joked when asked about the club’s preparations. “It’s exciting. When we reached MLS Cup Final, there’s an excitement around the team and around the club, so this week has been about preparing for Houston, preparing for the game on Saturday. So it’s been an enjoyable week.”

When asked to reflect upon his six years with the Galaxy as well as the potentially turbulent times, the 37-year-old midfielder admitted that head coach Bruce Arena was vital in bringing stability to his time to the Galaxy.

“The first year, year and a half was kind of very unsettling and it wasn’t a great place to be and then Bruce came in, settled everything down and that’s the reason we’ve had the success that we had in the last four years,” said Beckham. “He’s a great man manager, the way he looks after players, the way he looks after the team, the way he treats the players. He’s strong and harsh when he needs to be, but he also puts his arm around you and has a joke with you when you need that and I think that’s important with management. I owe a lot to Bruce and his staff because the work that they’ve done has been incredible and it’s been an honor working with him for the last four years.”

The Galaxy midfielder also addressed a series of questions on his post-Galaxy future, but Beckham echoed his comments from a week earlier stating that he has many “interesting and exciting opportunities” on the table. Beckham was quick to shoot down a rumor that arose through the BBC linking him with French club AS Monaco.  However, he did admit that the reported interest from many distinguished coaches was flattering.

“I heard the Monaco thing on the way to training this morning from a friend in London who said ‘I hear you’re going to Monaco,’” said Beckham. “So that was the first I’ve heard of that.  Like I said, I’ve very flattered by some of the interest that I’ve had, and some serious interest that I’ve had.

“It’s always nice to be recognized by managers and good managers and the fact that I’ve still got managers like [Paris Saint-Germain] Carlo Ancelotti and [Queens Park Rangers manager] Harry Redknapp and [West Ham United manager] Sam Allardyce, managers like this are coming out saying they’d love me to play and they know how professional I am that means a lot to me,” added Beckham. “That’s what I’ve tried to base my career around, my whole career around over the years, being a professional and working hard and it’s nice to be recognized like that.”

Beckham did bat away one pesky rumor that has been linking him to the bid for a second team in New York and the New York Cosmos organization.

“I’ve been hearing the Cosmos thing for the last two or three years and no, that’s not true,” said Beckham. “My manager has definitely not had a conversation on that side so that’s definitely not true.”

A possible ownership move for Beckham has been at the forefront as of late and the midfielder reiterated that interest on Tuesday.

“Obviously now I’m finishing playing over the weekend, the ownership part comes into play and it’s something that I’m excited about,” said Beckham. “It’s something that again I think proves my commitment to the league and to whatever club I become part-owner or owner of. I’m excited about that. I’ll always be committed to the Galaxy in some way because I’ve been here six years and it’s like Manchester United, like Real Madrid it becomes a home for me.”

Although his time in MLS is nearing the end, Beckham has a few words for any players that are interested in coming to the Galaxy or MLS.

“My pitch is simple: if you want to be a part of something that is going to be big. Because when Tim Leiweke came to me six years ago in my house, that’s exactly what he said to me,” said Beckham. “He said ‘soccer’s not one of the biggest sports in the U.S., but one day it will be.’ And I believed him. It’s something that when I first came over here I committed to this league, I committed to this team and I committed to growing this league.

“Just because I’m not playing here anymore after the weekend, my commitment stays the same. And I will do anything to keep these players coming over like Robbie Keane, like Thierry Henry, and anything I can do on that side of things I want to do. Because I want to see this league continue to grow. I think and I know it’s the number one sport in the World, there’s other great sports here of course, but I believe that it can compete with basketball, I believe it can compete with American football and baseball. So that’s why I’m totally committed to that.”

29 November 4:31 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- David Beckham's reputation for clinical set pieces may be well-renown, but Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis has shown that he is every bit of Beckham's peer.

While Beckham's right-footed is well-known throughout the world, Davis' left-foot has been key to Houston's back-to-back MLS Cup appearances. During the past two weeks ahead of Saturday's MLS Cup, the Galaxy have used Beckham to prepare for Davis' penchant for deadly free kicks.

After Davis missed out on MLS Cup 2011 due to a right quadriceps injury, Beckham is eager to face off against the Houston midfielder.

'I was sad for Brad that he missed out on the final last year, he was a player that had an exceptional season and unfortunately, won the assists [title] just in front of me. He's a great player and a great guy as well, it's great to see him fully fit, it's great to see him playing this weekend," said Beckham. "I hope that he doesn't play well to be honest, but I know that he's a great player and he's got a great left foot. He can deliver balls anywhere that he wants to and he's a player that you try to do your homework on, but sometimes when players are that good, you just have to be on it on the day and on him on the day. It's as simple as that."

29 November 11:54 am

It's been months since the last meeting between the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo, but it is worth looking back on that match.

The Dynamo erased an early deficit to beat the Galaxy 2-1 on May 26 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Edson Buddle scored the opener for the Galaxy, who were without Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, but a Mike Magee own-goal and an Andre Hainault header gave Houston the win on a scorching day in Houston. 

Below are the highlights -- and the lowlights -- of that match...

28 November 8:17 pm

The LA Galaxy took a moment from their MLS Cup preparations on Wednesday to visit the Carson Boys and Girls Club. The event, which featured a refurbished learning center and new sports court for the complex was due to a partnership between AEG, the LA Galaxy Foundation and MLS W.O.R.K.S., Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative.

I was on hand for the event and provided this piece for 

Below are a few select photos from the event...

28 November 3:44 pm

The Houston Dynamo may arrive in Southern California tomorrow evening, but the Dynamo are hard at work preparing for Saturday's MLS Cup against the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center.

Here are a few links on Houston's preparations... 

Houston Chronicle reporter Jose de Jesus Ortiz gives an update of the Dynamo's season awards ceremony which took place on Tuesday evening.

Jonathan Yardley preview's the Dynamo's training session on Wednesday.

Yardley also discusses the club's reinforced midfield in this piece for

Below is a video from on Houston midfielder Adam Moffat discussing the Dynamo's emotions heading into their second straight MLS Cup. 

28 November 3:00 pm

CARSON, Calif. – Sean Franklin faces, perhaps, the most challenging match up in this Saturday’s MLS Cup.

The LA Galaxy right back will be tasked with the responsibility to shut down the Houston Dynamo’s dynamic left-sided midfielder Brad Davis. The Dynamo captain heads into the final with added motivation after a right quadriceps injury prevented him from appearing in the 2011 final that LA ultimately went on to win.

Davis caused Franklin a great deal of problems during the last time the two teams met on May 26 as the Houston captain helped the Dynamo erase an early deficit to beat the Galaxy, 2-1. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of Davis’ game though will be his abilities on set pieces, but Franklin and the rest of the Galaxy defense have their own free kick taker to practice defending set pieces in David Beckham.

“It’s nice to have a specialist,” Franklin said with a smile. “They have a pretty guy of their own in Brad Davis and if we’re not sharp on our marks then he’s going to put the ball in good spots. Both teams have that guy who can change the game with one kick of the ball  so it’s all about who is going to take advantage of those opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net.”

While Davis will be just one part of a retooled Houston side, Franklin attests that the Dynamo haven’t been the only team to mature  since last year’s MLS Cup.

“We have more character, there were games this year that we came back from that we would have not won in the past,” said Franklin. “It’s good that we showed our character [during the early season struggles] in big games and getting wins on the road this year. Last year, it came easy and this year, we had to work for it.” 

28 November 12:50 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- Just a few days away from the MLS Cup between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo, the Galaxy have been hitting the airwaves and radio waves as the buzz builds around Saturday's match at The Home Depot Center.

David Beckham spoke with Los Angeles radio personalities "Petros and Money" to preview the final and his exit and Landon Donovan had a stint on ESPN's SportsCenter to preview the match.

Also, provided this look at the match with views from goalkeeper Josh Saunders and defender Omar Gonzalez.

Watch the video below...

28 November 9:06 am

Here are a few morning links and notes to get you through your day.

*On Monday, I previewed the MLS Cup for Time Warner Cable SportsNet and spoke about the upcoming game with the Houston Dynamo as well as the departure of David Beckham.

*In a story that was on the front page of all Los Angeles Newspaper Group, Phil Collin discusses David Beckham's impact on the Galaxy and his final game with the club

*'s "Central Winger" column broke down the Houston Dynamo's style of play in a must read column.

*The San Jose Earthquakes are set to return English midfielder Simon Dawkins back to the fold for next season.

*Comeback Player of the Year Eddie Johnson looks to be back for 2013 as Seattle Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer announced on Tuesday that the club intends to pick up his option.

*One GM who is not returning is Chivas USA's Jose Domene, who was officially let go by the club on Tuesday. 

*Below is the latest "Where is the MLS Cup?" video as the league championship trophy visits the Wildcard Gym, home to renown boxer Manny Pacquiao.

27 November 9:59 pm

CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena  and midfielder Mike Magee spoke with journalists from around the country this afternoon for a teleconference in lead up to Saturday's MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center.

Below are a series of select quotes from Arena.  The complete audio can be found here

(On Robbie Keane & Landon Donovan’s partnership…)

ARENA: “I think they are two good players who know how to react off one another. They are technically similar and they both understand each other well. Regardless of where we play Landon, he connects with Robbie. If he is in the midfield it’s still the same kind of relationship. It comes down to two soccer players who understand each other.”

(On Robbie Keane after the Euros 2012…)

ARENA: “There is a noticeable change in that he has obviously scored a lot of goals since his return. I think we see this all the time with players that are involved with national teams. When there are significant competitions their focus is sometimes on those championships with the national team. Maybe they hold back a little bit so they don’t pick up an injury.  I think when Robbie came back in late June he was 100% committed to the Galaxy. He’s played as well as any player in the League since late June.”

(On what he did to turn things around this season…)

ARENA: “Just like with any team there are things inside the team that you have to correct. Whether its chemistry, players understanding their roles, a coach doing a better job with leadership and trying to really get at some of the issues. Things like that we keep inside our team. But they are issues that are inside every team. All teams go through good stretches and bad stretches. Our bad stretch lasted a little longer than we would have liked but in 2011 we had similar types of issues. You just have to get together as a team and sort through those issues and help steer everyone in the right direction. That’s essentially what we did in general terms.”

(On if it was a steeper challenge considering the expectations…)

ARENA: “If you’re in coaching long enough or if you’ve been playing long enough, you understand that these issues are all part of the process. One isn’t any easier than the other. That’s why our profession is so unique and challenging. People from the outside don’t understand it. It’s equally challenging every year whether you’re having an outstanding season or a poor season. Coaching at these levels is simply challenging. It’s an everyday process and you can’t step away from it and you have to stay focused at all times. So I can’t say that this year has been more difficult than some others but it’s certainly been challenging.”

(On the turning point in the Galaxy season…)

ARENA: “It was right along that period of time where we had that game against Salt Lake, beat Vancouver at home and then lost to San Jose on the road but I thought we played well, I was okay with that. Right before the game in Philadelphia we were at the midway point. We set our goals and we knew what we had to do in the next 17 games and that was get 30 points. We ended up getting 34 but we went out and lost against Philadelphia. Maybe on a day when we were a little bit sharper we win by 3 or 4 goals to be honest. Then we went on a good run beating Chicago on the road, Portland on the road and then pulled out a draw against Vancouver in the last minute. Right around the Salt Lake game was when it started.”

(On Houston’s changes since last year…)

ARENA: “They are more dangerous. Brad [Davis] is an outstanding passer who has great service on set pieces. In [Boniek] Garcia, you have a player that’s different. He’s creative and dynamic with the ball at his feet. He’s a threat to both score goals and set up goals. Those are two very good attacking players to add to group who scores goals on set pieces, who has a goal scorer in [Will] Bruin. They are two midfield players who are among the best in the League. When you have that, their team is going to be considerably better.”

(On the play of Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall…)

ARENA: “Tally has been outstanding. I think he’s turned into a really good goalkeeper. He has a lot more experience after playing consistently over the past couple of years.”

(On how the Galaxy compare to the D.C. United team he coached…)

ARENA: “It was a different era so I don’t think you can make comparisons. My D.C. United team had some outstanding stars and some players that contributed and supported them. Then we had a nucleus of players who blended in well with our star power. I guess you could say we have that here at the Galaxy. Guys understand their roles and understand how to play with Robbie, Landon and David which in the end up being a team. That’s what this is about, developing good teams. So in that way those similarities are certainly there. I would also say this. Our League is not going to have dynasties. The make-up of the league and how we do our business doesn’t permit that.  There are going to be teams that are good for a couple of years and then they fall out of it for a while and they come back again. That’s just the reality of Major League Soccer. I don’t think you’re going to see the LA Galaxy be a team for the next ten years that will be competing year-in and year-out for the championship. It’s just not possible in our single entity.”

(On the play of midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson…)

ARENA: “I think he gives us some width in our attack. He’s a player who is comfortable playing out wide and he’s good on both sides of the ball. He’s an experience player and he’s technically sound. He’s a player that when we add him to the equation he makes us more dangerous as an attacking unit.”

(On Houston’s left back Corey Ashe…)

ARENA: “Over the last two or three years he’s gotten a lot more consistent. He’s physically strong and is quick to deal with any issues in his space. He’s also good going forward.  He’s developed into one of the best left backs in Major League Soccer.”