Kick Off: "It's our year," says LA defender Gonzalez
Soccer players are a superstitious lot.
So you'll forgive Omar Gonzalez if he sees the stars aligning for the Galaxy ahead of MLS Cup final (Sunday, Nov. 20, 9 pm ET, ESPN/Galavision/TSN2). Without a loss at home in 2011 and with the final set for the Home Depot Center, the 6-foot-5 centerback thinks LA has this one in the bag. “It's our year,” Gonzalez said.
The Houston Dynamo will obviously disagree. They've got a secret weapon too. Calen Carr's return from concussion, helmet and all, has given the Dynamo an injection of speed during a hot playoff run. "I think him becoming healthy has given us that bit of a threat over the top," Dominic Kinnear said.
Houston will be without the team's most well known offensive weapon: assist leader Brad Davis. Though the left winger won't require surgery on his torn right quad muscle, he still will miss the final. “It's the best worst-case scenario.”
Davis should return in time for preseason of 2012, when Houston will move to a new stadium. The final steel girder for the canopy was inserted this week. (PICTURES)
The new feel around the Galaxy next year will be a different channel. The team signed a mega 10-year, $55 million deal with Time Warner Cable to broadcast matches locally.
Of course, nothing rivals the live experience. That's why Dynamo part owner Oscar De La Hoya will charter a bus to shuttle members of all four fan groups to Carson, Calif., and back from the final.
Fans from Houston have a considerable commute, but won't travel as far as Robbie Keane. The striker returned from international duty having helped the Republic of Ireland qualify for Euro 2012, beating Joel Lindpere's Estonia 5-1 on aggregate. “This is what football is all about, moments like this.”
Though Keane will be at the Euros, most likely David Beckham won't. England boss Fabio Capello admitted that the 36-year-old is not in his plans, though did mention the midfielder could make the Olympic roster.
Before all that, the Galaxy will be involved in the CONCACAF Champions League. The quarterfinal schedule was released. All three MLS teams – LA, Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders FC – will play on March 7 and 15.
Sounders players swept Tuesday's MLS awards. Mauro Rosales was named the Newcomer of the Year thanks to his 13 assists and cultivated wing play. Kasey Keller grabbed the Goalkeeper of the Year award in his final season as a professional.
Keller hasn't yet decided a career path following his playing days, and hasn't ruled out coaching. The MLSer to most recently trade in the jersey for a suit is Jay Heaps. The former US international was appointed head coach of the New England Revolution. “In the end, what I lacked in experience I made up for with the right intangibles, and as much as it was about coaching, it’s also about leadership and the change of culture this team needs.”
The two most recent coaches of the Revolution voiced their support for the hire, praising Heaps' resolve and commitment. Still, “It’s a bold move, isn’t it?’’ Steve Nicol said. And Fernando Calvijo suggested hiring a capable assistant. “He will need somebody with experience.”
The hire is a move away from the man-management of Nicol into a more technical approach, according to one columnist. The Revolution are seeking a statistical analyst to help Heaps, who spent the last two years working for Morgan Stanley's private wealth division.
New England's hire means the Colorado Rapids are the only MLS side without a head coach. Managing director Jeff Plush is leading the search, and he says he wants someone to continue an evolution of Gary Smith's work. "This isn't a rebuilding project by any stretch."
The team that lost to Colorado in the playoffs, the Columbus Crew, ended their season early. However, the reserve squad only played their last match Tuesday. A win over D.C. United gave the Crew the best record in the Reserve League.
Omar Salgado saw plenty of time in the Reserve League. He's currently in Germany training with the US U-23 squad, but following that he'll fly to London to train with Fulham, according to one report.
Former Fulham defender Carlos Bocanegra earned his 100th cap for the US in a 3-2 win over Slovenia. Jurgen Klinsmann explained that the entire squad wanted to mark the former Chicago Fire's century with a win: “The team was pumped up all day, and they wanted to do well for him.”
There was another international milestone yesterday. D.C. United's Dwayne De Rosario tied Canada's all-time scoring record at 19 with a penalty in a 4-0 win over St. Kitts and Nevis.
Also in international news, North Korea became the unofficial world champion thanks to a 1-0 win over Japan. The approximately 1.2 million with television sets in Korea DPR could watch a rebroadcast which cut out the Japan national anthem.
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The Daily EXTRA files from Houston and Carson ahead of MLS Cup final