As the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo prepare to go head to head in a rematch of last year’s MLS Cup final, all the focus has been on the Galaxy player who has already announced his departure and another who may soon do likewise.
The former of course is David Beckham, who, after six seasons, has said that he will be leaving the MLS for one final challenge. Always the fiercest of competitors, the 37-year-old would doubtless not be satisfied unless he leaves a winner.
While Beckham has garnered the majority of the headlines, it is the future of Landon Donovan that is potentially far more significant. The United States international recently suggested that at just 30 years of age, he could retire at the end of the campaign.
Whether that transpires or not, there looks likely to be big changes at the Galaxy.
“All we know is David won't be here next year, but any team from year to year has a lot of turnover,” Donovan said, according to the MLS website. “That's the way sports are. That's the way this league is, like any other league.”
As for the game itself, the Galaxy will be aiming to retain the championship they won courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Houston last year. Bruce Arena’s side will rely heavily on the combination of Donovan and Robbie Keane, who have scored 25 goals between them in the MLS this season.
Arena could have defender A.J. DeLaGarza back from a knee injury. Dominic Kinnear, meanwhile, looks set to have a full quota of players to choose from, with both Ricardo Clark and Calen Carr passed fit.
Dynamo fans will also be hopeful of coming out on top at the Home Depot Center due to the presence of influential midfielder Brad Davis, who was injured for the final last year.
LA Galaxy (probable)
D: Franklin, Meyer, Gonzalez, Dunivant
M: Wilhelmsson, Beckham, Sarvas, Magee
F: Donovan, Keane
Houston Dynamo (probable)
D: Sarkodie, Boswell, Hainault, Ashe
M: Boniek Garcia, Clark, Davis, Carr
F: Bruin, Ching
Prediction: The Houston Dynamo can be expected to put up a good fight, but, with home advantage, the Galaxy should just come out on top for the second straight year.
LA Galaxy 2-1 Houston Dynamo
Where to watch: The MLS Cup final kicks-off from the Home Depot Center in Los Angles at 4.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN, with a live stream available on ESPN3.