2011 MLS Cup Preview: Five Points And Predictions

2011 MLS Cup Preview: Five Points And Predictions

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On November 18, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Cup, 2011 MLS Season, Features

LA and Houston battle in the 2011 MLS Cup this weekend. (Getty Images)

Well, here we are, the final game of the 2011 season. MLS Cup 2011 or 2011 MLS Cup…whatever way you look at it we are at the final game of the year.

I’ve been sitting quiet all week on this game, mostly due to the work load I’ve had at my day job but also because there were other items to get through here. Some of them I hope to share down the road, others might come up here soon. But enough about that kind of stuff.

The Los Angeles Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo. The AEG MLS Cup huh? Seeing the Galaxy make it this far isn’t a shocker after the season they’ve had and based on the pre-season expectations most of us had for them. Houston on the other hand is that club that got hot late in the season and rode it into the playoffs. Kudos to both for making it this far and after 90 (or more minutes) on Sunday we’ll know who is the champ.

Here are some key points that I’ll be looking at on Sunday, followed by my Cup prediction.

The Brad Davis Factor

Without Davis in the lineup, the Dynamo will have to rely on others in their midfield to step up. Leaders like Brian Ching, Geoff Cameron and underrated players like Colin Clark or Calen Carr would be guys that need to step up here. The Dynamo got through Kansas City without Davis for the most part and will have to go a full 90 without him on Sunday. Not easy.

In the end it will come down to Adam Moffat on set pieces and setting up the offense for the Dynamo. He’s proven before that he has a decent free kick. If he delivers can LA stop the Dynamo on the free kick? Good question for sure. LA didn’t look great in defense against RSL in the Western Conference final but did make adjustments to combat it.

Who Wins The Defensive Battle?

Two very good defenses in this game along with two quality young keepers. We know speed can kill the Galaxy but the Dynamo haven’t present a ton of that this year. On the flip side, the Dynamo defense can be exposed to quality crosses in the box and slippery strikers like Robbie Keane.

It really comes down to which keeper stands up and has a bigger game in my mind. Tally Hall and Josh Saunders are both poised to take that next leap in the great American keeper debate and this game could do it for them.

Home Field, is there anything to that?

We’ve heard a lot of talk about how good LA is at home. Their last home lost was in the playoffs last year against Dallas in a game that the Red Stripes lit them up for three goals like it was nothing. They’ve worked all year to get to this point but I wouldn’t put a ton of stock into that home field advantage notion. Houston may have only started to win on the road in the last two months but they’ve looked to be getting stronger with each road game.

Who are the unsung heroes?

For LA it has to be Mike Magee. He’s simply got it done this post season for the Galaxy, scoring goals and being in the right spot at the right time. David Beckham seems to love finding him and you got to feel that his confidence is sky high going into this game.

For Houston I look at Moffat. If he can create and hold possession in the midfield like Davis would for the Orange then the Dynamo will be well on their way with him in the attack.

David Beckham’s Last Hurrah? 

This could be the most over-played story of the whole Cup but with all that has been invested in Beckham you have to expect it. We’ve heard Beckham say how he will wait a couple weeks before the does anything to decide where he goes next or if he stays in LA. Winning a MLS Cup has always been a top priority for the Galaxy with him there and even more so this season.

I still believe he’ll re-sign with the Galaxy next month for a one-year deal. He loves it in LA and more importantly he loves having his family in LA. Big factor. If he gets a MLS Cup win on Sunday it will make his decision that much easier I believe.

Final Thoughts

This one should be a good game. Both teams have talent and desire to win it all here. We know what a disaster it would be for LA if they dropped this game at home. But at the same time we know what this title will mean if the Galaxy do win it all – they’d have a chance to go down in league history as one of the best ever – something Bruce Arena downplayed this week.

The Dynamo have to like their position though. They are an underdog by a decent margin but they have every ability to beat the Galaxy. The experience of the Dynamo is still there and they have enough players on this roster that have been there already.

This game will be tight and probably a low scoring affair. The Dynamo defense should carry them throughout this game to make it interesting but I see LA getting one in at some point to make this one a little more open and lively. I think a lot of pressure has to fall on Landon Donovan to lead the Galaxy though – not on Beckham or Robbie Keane. Donovan has to show the game-changer ability that we know he has to help the Galaxy.

In the end, I’m going with the home side in this game. I think Houston could pull off the upset and win it all but without Davis I have a hard time counting on them to do so. LA has all the tools and the power to win this game and will do so.

WVH Prediction: LA 2, Houston 1