FanPost

MLS Cup Head to Head Breakdown

 I am sure plenty of you will be familiar with the format used in this post. It is a breakdown that MLSSoccer.com often does for big games, and I thought I would make one today. I did it somewhat quickly, so excuse me if I have any small mistakes, and please let me know if anything needs to be changed. Tell me what you think will happen!

 

The L.A. Galaxy have two of the league’s best goalkeepers in their arsenal. Reining ‘keeper of the year, Donovan Ricketts, will most likely sit this one out, as Josh Saunders has been the #1 choice for the Galaxy in recent weeks. Saunders has proven time and again that he deserves this position. After sitting on the bench for years in L.A., he finally got his chance to prove himself this year when Ricketts suffered a fractured arm. Saunders delighted the fans, and shattered expectations, allowing the fewest goals per game of any shot stopper in the league.

Goalkeeping

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2011 has been a truly remarkable season for Tally Hall. After backstopping Houston to a second-place Eastern Conference finish, some would say he was the best ‘keeper of the playoffs, allowing just one goal in their three games. On the way he has made some of the most spectacular saves seen around MLS, and it came as a surprise to some that he was not nominated for the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award. The only question is will he be able to stop world class players like Keane, Donovan, Junhino, and Beckham?

The 2011 L.A. Galaxy has allowed fewer goals than any other team this season. While some of this success must be credited to the skill of their midfield and the Ricketts-Saunders (and even Perk!) goalkeeping combo, the backline steals the show. With the experience of Gregg Berhalter, and the youth of A.J. Delagarza, Sean Franklin, and Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez, little can be done by attackers.

Defense

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Houston doesn’t have the big names, small numbers defense the Galaxy has maintained throughout 2011. What they do have is a group of guys who have only allowed one goal in the playoffs and helped Houston to a nine game unbeaten streak, including a win in LA, where they only allowed one goal. Coming into the MLS Cup the Dynamo’s backline is hotter, but can they keep their cool under pressure?

LA has a simply unbelievable midfield. David Beckham has played for teams like Manchester United, and Real Madrid, as well as captaining the English national team. This may well be his final year in MLS, and he wants to go out with a trophy. Junhino has proved not only his skill on the ball, but also his incredible shots from distance. Captain Landon Donovan has been called the best American player that has ever lived. What else can you ask for?

Midfield

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There is not a whole lot to be said here. Houston’s midfield is definitely a force to be reckoned with, nobody questions that. Unfortunately, MVP hopeful Brad Davis will watch this game from the bench. Without his skill, and beautiful set piece services, the Dynamo’s central third will have to fight harder. Without Davis will they be able to overcome the most star-studded midfield in MLS? Can they stop the Galaxy’s threatening counter attack? We will have to wait until Sunday for the answer.

When 2011 began, the LA Galaxy were having trouble scoring. JPA didn’t cut it, and they had no other experienced striker. By the playoffs, however, the midfield has stepped up, along with fan-favorite Mike Magee, and the addition of Ireland’s Robbie Kean has gone a long way towards giving LA some serious fire power.

Forwards

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Brian Ching is well past his prime, and missing out on last year’s World Cup seems to have had a negative effect on him. While still a striking force up top, and a good set-piece target, he does not have the skill he once possessed. The Dynamo have depth up top, but does not have any single striker on par with the world class abilities of their opposition.

While many believe Bruce Arena did not deserve the 2011 Coach of the Year title, there is a reason he won it. He has experience, coaching DC United to the first ever MLS Cup, and has won Coach of the Year three times in his career, more than any other coach. Oh, and one more thing for the resume… He coached the US National Team.

Coach

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Dominic Kinnear has done wonders for Houston. With the regime change in the national team camp, his name came up multiple times for an assistant coach position, and there is a reason for it. However, there is also a reason he was never offered that position. He is not one of the elite MLS coaches, and is not very close to being one.

The 2011 LA Galaxy have become the second best MLS team ever in the leagues short history, and all they have left to do is win their second MLS Cup. All that stands in their way is a underdog Houston Dynamo, missing their best player. Add on to that the home field advantage, where the Galaxy has been unbeaten all year, and you have what seems an easy prediction.

Overall

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In recent years, the underdogs have seen great success in the MLS Cup. Last year is was the 7th seed Colorado, and in 2009 of course, the 8th seeded Real Salt Lake beat none other than the LA Galaxy in the final. The Dynamo are riding a hot streak into this matchup, and have not lost since early September, one of those wins coming against LA. This game is going to be much closer than even this breakdown makes is appear.

 

FINAL SCORE: LA Galaxy 1-0 Houstan Dynamo

The Galaxy are a much better team but Houston is on a roll, and their defense will keep the game close.

Note: I am not trying to support the idea that LA are the clear winners. Although I put them ahead in every catergory besides one, Houston were close behind in almost every catergory. Houston does have a real good shot at winning this.

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