LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano provides his Three Points to Saturday’s MLS Cup 2012 between LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo.
PRESSURE EARLY AND OFTEN
If the LA Galaxy are to win their fourth MLS Cup title, expect the defending champions to attack early and often against a Houston Dynamo side that is expected to cede possession to LA.
Throughout the postseason, the Galaxy showed that they could test defenses through a variety of ways from timely flank play from Christian Wilhelmsson and Sean Franklin or through the center of the park due to pinpoint passes from Juninho and David Beckham. Using either of these strategies, the Galaxy have been able to create spaces behind the defense for forwards Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, who have accounted for six of LA’s nine goals this postseason.
On Saturday, a diverse attack from LA will be needed as the Dynamo’s organized defense has repeatedly shut down opposing attacks throughout the postseason.
LIMIT HOUSTON’S SERVICE ON THE FLANKS
The Houston Dynamo may be in the MLS Cup for the second straight year, but the 2012 edition is a much different animal in large part due to the inclusions of flank players Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis.
With Garcia on the right side of midfield and Davis on the left, the Dynamo sliced through the Eastern Conference by creating pressure on opposing outside backs. Throughout Houston’s postseason run, timely service from Garcia and Davis has been decisive as the Dynamo look to create scoring opportunities for attacking players like forward Will Bruin, who has four postseason goals this year. The success of Garcia and Davis places considerable responsibility in the hands of right back Sean Franklin and left back Todd Dunivant, who will look to limit space for Houston on the flanks.
The Galaxy must also be weary of the two players on set pieces as Davis has shown a knack throughout his career of creating scoring opportunities single-handedly with his accurate left foot. On free kicks in particular, LA must remain disciplined and smart to prevent the Dynamo from getting behind the defense.
RIDE THE EMOTIONAL WAVE
The chance to play for Major League Soccer’s highest prize always causes emotions to run high on both side, but MLS Cup will also be the final match for Galaxy midfielder David Beckham and potentially captain Landon Donovan.
Beckham announced last week that he will be departing the Galaxy at season’s end while Donovan has stated that he will evaluate his playing future after MLS Cup. Their Galaxy teammates have been quick to shoot down any speculation that Beckham’s departure –as well as Donovan’s speculation—would overshadow MLS Cup, but the players must keep their focus when the first whistle is sounded against a dangerous Dynamo side.
This added emotion can play a positive and negative role for clubs in any match, let alone MLS Cup. But if the Galaxy can use it their advantage with proactive yet organized play, LA can get the perfect send off for any players that may be thinking of departing—an MLS Cup trophy.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com