It's almost game time, and so here's the final part of Waking The Reds' 3-part preview of tonight's MLS Cup final between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo. We've discussed the offense and defence corps in part one, the GKs, coaching and X Factors in part 2, and now in our final segment, we discuss some interesting story lines that you may want to watch for before, during and after the game.
As always, please feel free to leave your comments below. Now without further ado, here's Duncan, Keaton, James and John...one last time. Enjoy the match on TSN2 in Canada if you're watching!
IS THIS BECKHAM’S LAST GAME IN MLS?
John: The man has talked over and over again how he wants to represent the UK at the Olympics next summer, and for what it’s worth it sounds like he wants to play on. He’s got offers from around the world, and again it will probably boil down on who will be able to cough up enough dough to secure his signature.
And as much as I’ll begrudgingly admit that he’s actually put in some effort recently – MLS will be putting up a mighty fight with Ligue 1 and EPL teams to keep him. My gut says MLS will not win.
Duncan: Yes. New countries to conquer, more shirts to sell. All the talk seems to be of Paris St Germain, and their new money might tempt him, but I'd say he'll end up at some new team that wears adidas, which isn't PSG.
James: He has unfinished business to address here, despite the lure of Paris, and especially should they lose, he will be back for another season.
Keaton: Part of me sees Beckham going back to Tottenham to play one last season, and all that sobby jazz. But I could also see Beckham sign a contract to play one more year with the Galaxy. I would love to see Beckham stay until after March 14th (Champions league, Beckham drama= distracted LA), and then he can do whatever the hell he wants.
WILL THERE BE EXTRA TIME OR PENALTIES?
John: On the surface it doesn’t look like a match – but I feel this game could be closer than you think. I’m going to say there will be extra time.
Duncan: I'll say no, it'll be a slightly dull and disappointing 2-0 L.A win.
James: Yes and yes. An early goal could change everything but expect a patient, defensive-minded chess match, Both sides are experienced, well-rested and prepared. It could be a long night; spots kicks to separate the sides are an eventuality one should be prepared for.
Keaton: No, LA will win within the 90 minutes.
WHO WILL BE THE HERO?
John: Hard to say, but I’m going to say that like Pat Onstad before him, Tally Hall will save the Dynamo allowing them to ride to victory.
Duncan: Omar Gonzalez. He'll score from a set piece as well as playing a crucial role in shutting down Houston.
James: With or without Davis, it will be Adam Moffat who is the difference on the night. An underrated player, whose impact over the past few seasons has been reduced due to repeated knee injuries. There was a match against Toronto when he was playing in Columbus in which he was deadly. He will shutdown the midfield while pushing his teammates forward.
Alternate hero is Andre Hainault, the Canadian defender has been on fire offensively. The odd man out – third Houston centre-back - on set-pieces will have to be watched carefully by a skilled marker, something LA will be lacking with Gonzalez forced to cover one of Ching, Cameron, Carr, Costly, when defending. Note – Houston are a huge team, LA, not so much.
Keaton: Landon Donovan will once again be the All American hero in one of the Galaxy’s most important games. Donovan knows no other way than to score a massive goal on the biggest games.
WILL RICARDO SALAZAR S*IT UP THE GAME?
John: Salazar seems to not screw up as much as a Toledo or a Marrufo, even without my red-coloured glasses on. I trust he will keep a tight hand on affairs, but again...like most MLS refs, he’ll be on a knife edge.
Duncan: The easy answer is yes, because he's an MLS ref, but so far the refs have done alright in the playoffs, so I'll vote no, that he'll have a decent game without too many wierd calls and minimal bookings.
James: As much as he has been prone to mishaps – as are all MLS referees – Salazar is one of the more patient arbiters of a match. He likes to keep a firm grip on the match, but he will have strict instructions to let the match play out. There will be lots of stern talking-to’s, and flexing of muscles, but unless things get out of hand, it will be a hard-fought, physical contest, that will conclude with twenty-two men on the pitch.
So with all that said and done, and just in case you really haven't paid attention to one iota of what we've said...here's a handy-dandy jpeg of all ours (and some other readers') picks: