CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy defender Tommy Meyer might find himself opposite Houston Dynamo striker Will Bruin in this weekend's MLS Cup final, and that's a showdown for which he can hardly wait: The close friends have been battling since they were 12 years old growing up in St. Louis.
Meyer and Bruin developed together at youth club powerhouse St. Louis Scott Gallagher and were also teammates at Indiana University, and both have played key roles in their clubs' runs to Saturday's title game at the Home Depot Center (4:30 pm ET, ESPN, TeleFutura, TSN/RDS in Canada).
“I'm happy for Will,” said Meyer, a rookie center back who has started the last nine LA games during A.J. DeLaGarza's injury absence. “He's definitely been doing well this year – it's kind of been his breakout year. ... We would always play against each other [in practice] in college. We played together in club and against each other in high school. We've got a lot of history.”
Bruin, who led the Dynamo with 12 regular-season goals, two in the US Open Cup and has four more in the playoffs, is “just a physical presence,” said Meyer, adding that their battles played out fairly evenly.
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“For a big guy, he moves pretty well,” Meyer added. “And that's always dangerous when he's looking to make runs in behind and hold the ball. He's tough to mark. He's one of those guys who will pop up in places you don't expect him to – usually at the right time. You've got to keep your eye on him.”
Meyer's and Bruin's fathers are close friends, and both players were coached at Scott Gallagher by Meyer's uncle Tommy Howe, whose products also included Dynamo captain Brad Davis and Galaxy backup forward Pat Noonan. Meyer's father, Keith, also played at Indiana, reaching four NCAA final fours and winning Division I titles in 1982 and 1983.
Davis, who is about eight years older than Meyer and Bruin, was an inspiration at the club.
“He was the most skilled guy on the field,” Meyer said. “He was in high school and would run camp when I was little – that's when I got to know him. He was definitely the most technical guy out there.”
Meyer said he and Bruin haven't engaged in any pregame trash talk, and he has no plans to start any.
“We're friends,” he said. “Talking might happen after the game, but it will definitely be friendly.”
One of the last things Meyer did as an Indiana student was read Grant Wahl's The Beckham Experiment for his “Sport in America: Historical Perspectives” class. He received an “A” on his essay on the book in the class final but quickly learned there was more to the story when he joined the Galaxy last January.
“It was definitely interesting reading that book and then getting out here and actually getting to meet [David Beckham] as a person,” Meyer said. “He's definitely different than the book says.”
Getting to know Beckham and the Galaxy's other veterans challenged some of Meyer's expectations – the environment was far more welcoming than he anticipated – but he kind of expected that.
“I was coming into it thinking it was going to be a lot different than I thought it was going to be,” he said, “and it definitely was.”
He says if he had to rewrite his essay today, it would be “a lot different.”