LA Galaxy expecting a battle when they host Houston Dynamo on Sunday night at The Home Depot Center

CARSON, Calif. – The storyline is obvious, a rematch of the last two MLS Cup finals. But LA Galaxy coaches and players aren’t putting any special tag on Sunday’s game with the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center (8 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, KTLK 1150 AM, KWKW 1330 AM, LIVECHAT). To them it’s just another game in the schedule and another chance to keep pace with first place FC Dallas in the Western Conference.


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“That part doesn’t concern me as much as the fact it’s the next game in the league and it’s important no matter who we were playing this Sunday,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said of the meeting with the Dynamo (4-2-2, 14 points), who the Galaxy (4-1-2, 14 points) beat in the 2011 and 2012 MLS Cup finals at The Home Depot Center. “It’s certainly a nice story and all, don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t mean a whole lot to us, the fact we’ve played them the last two years in the MLS Cup final.”

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Defender A.J. DeLaGarza, who was an unused substitute in the 2012 Final after being injured late in the season, also said there is no extra meaning to Sunday’s game between the often bitter rivals.

“I’ve played them quite a few times,” he said. “It’s always going to be a battle when you get these two teams together. We’ve been to the finals with them the last two years, and they’re looking for revenge again and will come out flying.”

Houston likely will feature mostly the same lineup it used in last December’s Final, with a couple of key exceptions. Houston captain Brad Davis, for example, won’t play after he was red carded late in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Colorado. Calen Carr, who scored the opening goal in the 2012 Final before leaving with a torn knee ligament, has yet to play this season.

But there are still the likes of Boniek Garcia, Ricardo Clark, Tally Hall, Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe, Will Bruin and Adam Moffat. There also is leading scorer Giles Barnes, who has three goals in eight games.

“Basically the same team as last year,” said Arena, who hopes to have Carlo Cudicini, Landon Donovan, Todd Dunivant and Robbie Keane available this weekend after all four missed last weekend’s 2-0 win at Real Salt Lake. “Certainly a little more experienced. Now they have Barnes up there, and he’s having a good year.

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“This is a good team. We’re going to have to play real well, try to get three points.”

Mike Magee said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Dynamo came out a little stronger than usual Sunday.

“It’s going to be a battle, no matter what,” he said. “Obviously for them there’s going to be a revenge factor, and we have to step up our game because they’re going to be more motivated. They have more to play for than us because obviously we beat them in the Cup.”

READ: Clark prepares to face his former club for the first time as LA Galaxy host the Houston Dynamo