CARSON, Calif. – So much for sunny Southern California. If the weather holds, we’re likely to have our fourth MLS Cup final played under rainy conditions.
Showers have pelted the Los Angeles area since Sunday morning, and show no signs of letting up: The forecast in Carson for kickoff of MLS Cup 2011 (9 pm ET/6 pm PT) calls for a 20 percent chance of continued rain and a possible thunderstorm.
While that likely won’t come anywhere near the torrential conditions of the inaugural MLS Cup in 1996, the weather certainly could play a role in Sunday’s game.
“It depends on how much rain, how the field handles,” LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters on Saturday. “This field usually handles water pretty well. I haven’t seen rain on this field in a really long time.”
If anything, says Todd Dunivant, it could favor the Galaxy slightly.
“I think it’s going to be a fast game no matter what,” the LA left back told reporters on Saturday, “and if the field’s playing fast, that’ll sharpen [us] up that much more and I think if anything, that could favor us. But I’m not thinking that’s going to be a big part of the game.”
Dunivant added that the grounds crew of The Home Depot Center usually waters down the pitch before games, so the Galaxy are used to playing on a slicker surface. And their counterattack game isn’t affected by a wet pitch.
The favored Galaxy have played in rainy conditions a handful of times this year, mostly with positive results. They beat the Sounders in Seattle 1-0 in a soggy first game of the 2011 season, then returned home five days later and eked out a 1-1 draw against New England in a wet, chilly and soggy affair.
In May, the Galaxy fell to FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park 2-1 in a bizarre game that was delayed for an hour during the second half amid a thunderstorm and lightning. Brek Shea eventually hit a long ball from the left wing that carried into the goal for an 88th-minute winner.
LA also won their CONCACAF Champions League group-stage finale over Motagua 1-0 in rainy conditions in Honduras.
Houston, meanwhile, have mostly dodged wet weather during the 2011 season except for sprinkly pitches at Seattle in March and Portland in October.
Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear says he couldn't care less about inclement conditions Sunday.
“I’m just happy to be here playing a game,” he told reporters on Saturday. “The field’s nice. You don’t want rain for the fans, but as far as the play goes, you can only control what you can control.”