November 30, 2012
A look at Saturday's Galaxy-Dynamo game
Houston Dynamo @ LA Galaxy, 4:30 pm ET (ESPN/Telefutura)
|The Phillip A. Anschutz Trophy in front of the Hollywood sign
Photo courtesy of Major League Soccer
For the second time in Major League Soccer history, the same two teams will meet in consecutive MLS Cups when the LA Galaxy meet the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center – also the site of the MLS championship game for a second consecutive year.
A year ago, in front of a record Home Depot Center crowd of 30,281, Landon Donovan scored the game’s only goal as the Galaxy claimed their third MLS title. Donovan was named the MLS Cup MVP, becoming the second player in league history to win the honor on two occasions.
The rematch pits two of the most successful clubs in Major League Soccer history. The Galaxy are competing in the MLS Cup Final for a record eighth time, looking to win their fourth title, which would match D.C. United for the most in league history. The Dynamo are playing in MLS Cup for the fourth time in their seven-year history, after becoming just the second club to win back-to-back titles, in 2006 and’07.
The Dynamo of course were also involved the last time the same two teams met in back-to-back MLS Cups. In MLS Cup 2006 in Frisco, Texas, the Dynamo defeated the New England Revolution on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes. The following year at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., the Dynamo claimed their second MLS title with a 2-1 win over the Revolution.
Before last year’s MLS Cup Final, the teams met once previously in the MLS Cup Playoffs – with a trip to MLS Cup 2009 on the line. In a bizarre Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center – twice interrupted by power outages – the Galaxy won 2-0 in extra time on goals by Gregg Berhalter and Landon Donovan.
The teams met just once during the 2012 regular season, on May 26 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Edson Buddle staked the Galaxy to a 10th-minute lead, but an own goal from Mike Magee leveled the score, then André Hainault scored the game-winning goal in the 57th minute.
In the first season where the team with the best regular-season record is host of MLS Cup, the Galaxy become the fourth team to play MLS Cup on their home ground, the first to do it twice. The Galaxy were also involved in a third match – winning MLS Cup 2002 on a golden goal in a 1-0 win against the New England Revolution before a crowd of 61,216 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., the largest crowd to see the MLS championship game.
In 1997, D.C. United defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1 before a sellout crowd of 57,431 at RFK Memorial Stadium.
MLS Cup 2012 will be a meeting of the lowest combined seeds ever to qualify for the championship game, after both clubs started their postseason runs in the Knockout Round. The Galaxy finished fourth in the Western Conference in the regular season, while the Dynamo finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. The previous record was 2010, when FC Dallas finished third in the Western Conference in the regular season and the Colorado Rapids finished fifth (and were seeded third in the Eastern Conference bracket).
Since the Dynamo came into the league, the all-time regular season series has been very tight. After the Dynamo’s win in the lone meeting in 2012, each team has won six games, and four games have been drawn. The Dynamo have scored 19 goals, and the Galaxy have scored 18.
The Galaxy have defeated the Dynamo on their last five meetings at The Home Depot Center, including MLS Cup 2011. Houston’s last win against the Galaxy in Carson came in 2007, a 3-1 triumph.
The Galaxy will be looking to maintain the dominance of the Western Conference in recent MLS Cups. Since 2001, Western Conference clubs have won nine of the 11 MLS Cups. Only D.C. United’s 2004 victory and the Columbus win in the 2008 all-Eastern matchup have broken the West’s hegemony. The Dynamo were also in the Western Conference from their inception, until moving to the Eastern Conference in 2011 with the addition of expansion teams Portland and Vancouver.
Of the last eight MLS Cup Finals, the Galaxy or Dynamo will have played in six. The Galaxy played in 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2012, and the Dynamo in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012