The MLS Cup is finally upon us, and I can’t wait to find out who takes home the trophy! This year’s matchup is between the Western Conference’s LA Galaxy, who are the overwhelming favorites, led by David Beckham and Landon Donovan, going against the Houston Dynamo, who clawed and scratched their ways first to the playoffs, and now to the ultimate stage, led by Brian Ching. Houston star Brad Davis is out of the final, hurting Houston’s chances tremendously. I’ve got three questions that will determine the result of the final.
But first, I’ve got some background for those of you who haven’t followed MLS yet this year, or have been on and off following this season. The Galaxy finished the year with 67 points, far and away the most in Major League Soccer. They finished up top the Western Conference with ease, ahead of Seattle Sounders FC by 4 points. The Galaxy led the Western Conference for basically the whole season and were in strong form the entire season for the most part.
The Dynamo are a different story. Although they did finish very strong, in second place, they struggled mightily on the road, and had a 2-6-9 record away from home. They finished the regular season 2 points behind Sporting Kansas City in the jam-packed Eastern Conference. Speaking of the Eastern Conference, the final team in the MLS Cup Playoffs, Red Bull New York (RBNY) finished only 5 points behind Sporting Kansas City. That goes to show you how tight the conference race was in the Eastern Conference.
Road to the Championship
The Galaxy breezed into the playoffs and breezed through the first round past RBNY, on an aggregate score of 3-1. They then beat Real Salt Lake in the one game semifinal (MLS has a strange playoffs format, don’t they?) 3-1 to set up their matchup with the Dynamo.
The Dynamo also won their first round also by an aggregate score of 3-1, except they played Philadelphia Union. They then upset the top-seeded (in the Eastern Conference) Sporting Kansas City 2-0 to advance to the MLS Cup Final. The win didn’t come without a loss, however, as they lost star player Brad Davis to injury. He’ll miss the final, hurting Houston’s hopes.
Three questions I have
1Who’ll be the X-factor?
The X-factor of the playoffs has undoubtably, in my mind, been Mike Magee of the Galaxy. He scored only 5 goals the entire regular season and has almost reached that total in the playoffs. I think that his great connection with David Beckham will serve him well and he’ll continue his great form.
Brad Davis might have been the key for Houston, but his absence really hurts Houston. I think they’ll suffer without him.
2. Which veteran player will shine the brightest?
There are many players to choose from, but I think that Landon Donovan will break out of his slump in the playoffs and lead the Galaxy. I also think that David Beckham will contribute a lot in what might be his last game in the USA.
Speaking of David Beckham…
3. Is this David Beckham’s last game in the USA?
In short: Yes. As much as just about every soccer fan in the USA wants him to stay, I think that it’s time for Beckham to explore his options. He’s proved his worth in the USA, and I’m sure Becks will like to go back to Europe and maybe even to England, his home country. That said, look for Beckham to go all out in the MLS Cup Final.
I think that you might have been able to tell from my answers to the questions, but I think that LA will win the 2011 MLS Cup Final by a score of…2-0. Here’s why. David Beckham and Mike Magee will hook up for one goal, early in the first half, then captain Landon Donovan will put it away in the latter stages of the match and LA will celebrate their third MLS Cup title.
Enjoy the match, which is on ESPN2 at 9:00 ET!