The Los Angeles Galaxy were supposed to be here. They were the Supporters' Shield winners as the top team in the regular season. They bid to host MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center with the idea of seeing the Galaxy raise the MLS Cup trophy at their home stadium. It is the last year of David Beckham's contract and the idea of the high-priced trio of Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane holding that trophy has been running through the heads of the Galaxy brass for months now. Here in the MLS Cup final is where the Galaxy were supposed to be.
The Houston Dynamo, well, they most certainly were not supposed to be here. They won just twice away from home all regular season and needed a late season push just to get away from the danger zone of missing the playoffs. Their big midseason signing, Carlos Costly, has fallen well short of expectations and there isn't a single player on the Dynamo that was a preseason pick for MLS Best XI, but here they are, the Eastern Conference's representative in the MLS Cup final.
Even with Houston in the final though, it's not the Dynamo team that was supposed to be here. The Dynamo team that was supposed to be in the final included Brad Davis, the man who had the season of his life and became the MLS MVP frontrunner. If the Dynamo were to make it this far, it was going to be on his back, but he went down in the Eastern Conference final. Even with Davis out, Houston managed to win and now they head to the MLS Cup final without him, preparing for a match that (shocker here) they're not supposed to win.
Everything has gone the Galaxy's way this season. Be the best team in the regular season? Check. Advance to the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League? Check. Make it to the MLS Cup fina? Check. Now there's one thing left to do and that's win MLS Cup. It's something they'll be favored to do, partly because their aforementioned trio of superstars, but also partly because of their impenetrable defense.
Los Angeles allowed the fewest goals in the league this season. Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant were named to MLS' Best XI. Sean Franklin may be the best right back in MLS and A.J. DeLaGarza has done his part and then some. Cracking the Galaxy defense is tough enough to as is, but how is the Dynamo supposed to crack it without Davis?
Set pieces will be the best bet for Houston. They've been the Dynamo's bread and butter all year and while they won't have Davis whipping the ball in, Adam Moffatt did a pretty good Davis impression in the Eastern Conference final and Andre Hainault, Geoff Cameron, Brian Ching and Bobby Boswell are as good in the air as ever.
Even so, this final has Galaxy written all over it. They have the red-hot Josh Saunders in goal, the best defense in the league, Beckham, Donovan, Juninho and the streaking Mike Magee in the midfield and Keane in front. It's tough to find a place on the field where the Dynamo have an edge, plus LA will be right at home at the Home Depot Center. Then again, the Dynamo weren't even supposed to be here, but they are. Why not go out and win a title they're not supposed to win and spoil the Galaxy's party?