HOUSTON – When the Houston Dynamo take the field at the Home Depot Center for Saturday afternoon’s MLS Cup final, expect Dynamo fans to look to the left side of Houston’s midfield and breathe a sigh of relief.
Why the attention? Unless you’ve have been living under a rock, you know that Brad Davis, the Dynamo’s Most Valuable Player award winner each of the past four seasons, missed last year’s championship match with a torn quad muscle.
Looking back, however, is something Davis said will not affect his attitude toward Saturday's rematch (4:30 pm ET, ESPN, TeleFutura, TSN/RDS in Canada).
“I don’t want to win that much more because I didn’t get a chance last year; I want to win this year because the guys put in another great effort, and this is the fun part that you work for all year,” Davis said. “I’m just excited to be part of it and be healthy, and I’m looking forward to playing this game strictly for a shot at the Cup.”
Healthy and in form, Davis has posted three assists in five playoff games this time around. The engine of last year’s Houston offense, he had to watch from the sideline as the Dynamo failed to seriously threaten the Galaxy goal and then conceded Landon Donovan’s second-half winner.
“Last year wasn’t fun to not be able to play, but the guys put in an unbelievable effort,” Davis said. “For me this year, I look at it as another opportunity that sits in front of me.”
The Dynamo are looking for Davis, now wearing the captain’s armband, to bring what he has all season: a calm sense of possession and precision from the left side. After all, Houston are 8-1-3 in the 12 games in which Davis has dished out an assist in the regular season and playoffs combined.
That play has helped the Dynamo buck their smash-and-grab stereotype this season and play more attractive soccer. It was something the squad lacked in the 1-0 loss a year ago, and head coach Dominic Kinnear is pleased to have his full squad available this time.
“We’re a healthier team,” Kinnear said. “We’re a bit better with the additions we’ve made – with Boniek [García] and Brad being available and Mac Kandji having a good playoffs for us. We’re healthier than we were last year, and possibly we’re a more complete team than we were last year as well.”
To gain the foothold in possession and tempo that eluded them in 2011, the Dynamo will focus on putting the ball at the feet of Davis on one side and García on the other, hoping to take the game to the Galaxy as they have all season, especially in much of Houston’s five-game playoff run.
“The way we’ve come through the playoffs has been great,” holding midfielder Adam Moffat said. “With Boniek and Brad in there, it does add more creativity and free things up for Ricardo [Clark] and myself to keep things simple if we can win the ball.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @DarrellLovell.