HOUSTON – It's fair to say this weekend's MLS Cup 2011 rematch has lost a bit of luster.
With the LA Galaxy – who currently sit in last place in the Western Conference – limping into Houston Saturday to face the Dynamo (2:30pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), there does not seem to be the excitement you would expect around the match. But while LA’s position in the table may suggest they are ripe for the picking, Houston are not falling into the trap of overlooking a talented opponent.
NBCSN Preview: HOU - LA
“I’m a little bit surprised because in preseason everyone was picking them to do pretty [well],” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “But they still have enough quality. It does raise some eyebrows with the way they’ve started.”
While it may not be what people expected from LA, the star-laden club comes into the weekend clash on a six-match winless streak, having lost four of their last five. Knowing that it only takes a slight nudge to put a team back on the right course, Houston’s goal this weekend is to keep the Galaxy’s woes going.
“We have to be careful that they don’t change their momentum on us,” Brian Ching said. “So we have to stay on top of them and continue to make things difficult.”
While LA will be coming to Houston without two of their big stars – Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan are both away on international duty – the third member of their trio of Designated Players, David Beckham, will be making the trip. The midfielder had a big influence on the Galaxy’s 1-0 MLS Cup win last November, and the man tasked with stopping him knows what he has to do to keep the English icon from putting his imprint on this match.
“For him you have to deny service because you see the balls he can play,” said midfielder Adam Moffat. “You have to get tight with him and make sure he doesn’t get much time or space. It’s going to be a big challenge.”
With Houston and LA set to kick off at early in the afternoon, there is enough time for the Dynamo to settle in for Saturday’s US national team match against Scotland that evening. And yes, many of the Dynamo’s eyes will be on teammate Geoff Cameron, but there will be some interest in Scotland’s fortunes as well.
“I’d love to [break into the team] if the opportunity came my way,” said Glasgow-born Scottish hopeful Moffat. “It’s a great honor to play for your country but I’ll just keep plugging away here and hopefully they notice me. We’ve struggled as a nation of late, but it’s going to be good to see some guys I used to play with and I’ll definitely be watching.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.