CARSON, Calif. – Houston manager Dominic Kinnear does not expect any surprises from the LA Galaxy come MLS Cup 2011 on Sunday (9 p.m. ET on ESPN, Galavision and TSN2).
The two-time defending Supporters’ Shield champs are forced to replace injured starter Chad Barrett and Kinnear feels it will be a like-for-like replacement with another forward entering the starting XI. The Dynamo say they think it will be Adam Cristman.
“I think Bruce is a pretty solid 4-4-2 type of guy,” Kinnear said after the team’s final practice at The Home Depot Center on Saturday afternoon. “Cristman has played well for them when he’s been given the chance. So whether it’s Cristman or someone else, we’ll figure it out in the first five minutes of the game and just take it from there. But we’ll talk about different things before the game starts.”
Saturday’s session was closed except for the final 15 minutes of finishing drills, in which players fired volleys and also practiced receiving the ball with their back to goal and getting shots on target.
Although there are no injury worries to speak of – Jason Garey (hip), Cam Weaver (hip) and Brad Davis (quad) are the only players out – Kinnear did express some doubt as to how many minutes winger Colin Clark could fill after making his most recent start on Oct. 1 and his most recent appearance on Oct. 23. Clark, who was kept out of a practice session in the lead-up to the Eastern Conference Championship due to a knee issue, left practice without stopping to speak to media on Saturday.
“He’s OK. We’ll see,” Kinnear said about Clark. “He hasn’t played in a while, in about three weeks or so. So if he were to go, you just have to keep an eye on him. The weather here is perfect. It’s not hot and muggy and doesn’t drain you so quick. I think the weather is good for a guy for extending his time on the field if possible.”
Aside from the health considerations, Kinnear was upbeat about his team’s mental state coming into the match. He said he will give the players time on Saturday to be with family and friends who made the trip to LA for the match.
“We feel pretty good,” he told Saturday’s media gathering. “The guys are enjoying training which is good. Yesterday was a good day for us and today is a normal day before and you can tell the spirits are pretty good. By no means are we thinking it’s going to be easy but you always have to enjoy yourself on and off the field because you know tomorrow we’re going to get very serious.”