Tally Hall, Bobby Boswell, Andre Hainault
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Kick Off: Dynamo say they can beat Galaxy without Davis

The Houston Dynamo were missing Ricardo Clark in 2006 and Brian Ching in 2007. But they still found a way to win back-to-back MLS Cup titles.

This year even without MVP finalist Brad Davis, the Dynamo feel equally confident: "It hurts losing him," ]says goalkeeper Tally Hall. "But at the same time, I feel like we have a deep team. We have a team of dangerous players, and I think we've proven that even without Brad.”

Dynamo fans will be there to do their part. It only took a matter of minutes for them to sell out the club’s allotment of tickets. But the Dynamo felt 900 tickets weren’t enough: “The only unfortunate thing is that there does not appear to be enough seats to meet the fans‚ demand,” said Houston’s president.

Back to Houston’s Hall, he reveals that he spent some time wearing a T-shirt with the indie-rock band from Michigan that bears his name.

One person who won’t be at MLS Cup is Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers, who shows his opportunism and total lack of perspective when he writes an attention-seeking column about how David Beckham “hasn’t been worth it” in LA. Judge for yourself if this doesn’t sound like a spurned reporter who didn’t get his five minutes with Beckham at an LA Kings game. Clearly no axe to grind here.

If you want to laugh some more after that, read the report about Mexican side Club Tijuana making a big-money move for Beckham.

Many expect Landon Donovan to be a difference-maker at MLS Cup 2011, six years after capturing his last league title. He’s become a more complete player, according to Bruce Arena, even though the LA manager admits that Donovan “may have actually, oddly enough, lost a step over the years.”

Still more revelations emerge about the relationship between ex-Rapids manager Gary Smith and Colorado’s upper management. Smith tells ESPN.com that the club brass was involved in the player decisions: "They were the source of a lot of conflict. Ninety percent of the decisions were made after heavy arguments. These guys feel they are in a position of power to do that. When I took the job, I was told I would have the final say. But over time that required more confrontation, more energy, and I was sick and tired of the backbiting.”

In search of a new coach, the Rapids have already reached out to Portland about speaking to John Spencer but the Timbers rejected the approach. This is what technical director Gavin Wilkinson said of Spencer’s comment to him: “'Colorado may be my home but Portland is the home of soccer.'"

Sporting Kansas City will be in search of a new assistant coach if this report is to be believed. Octavio Zambrano looks to be headed to the Colombian second division to take over at Deportivo Pereira.

Another former MLS coach is in demand. Juan Carlos Osorio is said to be in talks to take over at Puebla in Mexico, where DaMarcus Beasley plays.

This has not been the most memorable of weeks for New York Red Bulls midfielder Rafa Márquez. First, he’s linked with a return to the worst team in the Mexican league, his ex-club Atlas. And after denying his playoff ball-throwing incident had anything to do it, he learns from the Mexican national team head coach that he was in fact left off the roster for his role in the fracas vs. LA. “Everyone can make mistakes,” José "Chepo" de la Torre said.

The good news for Márquez is that Red Bulls manager Hans Backe expects him back in 2012. The Swedish coach indicated that the priority is landing a designated player at central midfield or forward. Backe also said that he wants his team to be more physical and as a result become more of a threat on set pieces.

Did we also see a dose of revenge from New York defender Tim Ream toward Márquez? "We’ve got to get rid of all the back-room chatter," Ream said yesterday. "Red cards are going to happen, but we did have quite a few. You can’t let the frustrations get the best of you and do something stupid."

Speaking of Ream, the defender indicated that his training spell this offseason could see him heading to Red Bull Salzburg or even West Bromwich Albion in England.

This may come as a surprise to many fans: Backe admits that before this season he did not know the Gold Cup was going to be played this year. It was the start of the “messiest year” in his 32-year coaching career.

The CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal draw took place yesterday and Toronto FC manager Aron Winter was excited to land the Supporters’ Shield-winning LA Galaxy as opposed to a Mexican club that would be in midseason form by March 2012: “We are in the same situation [as LA],” Winter said. “We’re going to start preseason at the same time.”

When they face Santos Laguna in the CCL quarters, will the Seattle Sounders be donning this new third jersey in place of the electricity yellow kits of 2011? (PHOTO)

You know how Sporting KC's C.J. Sapong found out he was the MLS Rookie of the Year yesterday? Manager Peter Vermes made the announcement in front of the entire team before practice. “Because it’s a team achievement,” Vermes said.

Today, the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year will be revealed with LA’s Omar Gonzalez going up against Real Salt Lake center backs Jámison Olave and Nat Borchers. The Humanitarian of the Year and the league’s top referee will also be announced.

The US Open Cup may be experiencing some significant changes moving forward. One member of the USOC Committee suggests that a random draw may very well be introduced as a new twist in the domestic cup tournament: “You’d get excitement out of a draw and there would be balance in terms of who was hosting games.”

There’s more New York Cosmos news this morning: The club is being sued. “We are sorry it has come to this," said the suing party.

Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi has a new book out and will be on a promotional tour in Vancouver next week.

Moving to Europe, France national team manager Laurent Blanc is seen as one of the visionary coaches on the Old Continent. But we want to know what he’s watching when he gives his impression on the US national team before he faces them on Friday afternoon: “It’s a team that has quality players but I think when it comes to the athletic and physical, they are a step below.” (FRENCH)

Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning indicates that contract negotiations are underway for him to become the successor to Kasey Keller in Seattle. He has declined a new contract with Xanthi in Greece and saw his playing time affected as a result. But he’s looking forward to Seattle and reliving a magic moment he recounts of driving through Lake Washington and listening to “Pumped up Kicks” by Foster the People. (GERMAN)

In a very different mood is former US Under-17 national team player Neven Subotic, who is not accepting the apology offered by a fellow defender after the latter’s elbow broke Subotic’s face and has him out long term.

Lastly, Hope Solo made it to next week’s final four on Dancing with the Stars but she also confesses that she nearly quit the show because of an incident seen last week during a practice session.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong now eyes an international call-up with USA next

MLS Cup Top 50 Moments: Jay Heaps’ date with destiny in the 2006 PK shootout

Talking Tactics: Donovan quiet but effective against Real Salt Lake in West title match

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