Los Angeles or Houston? Who to root for in the MLS Cup Final

Though the Sounders aren't playing in the MLS Cup Final, the game must go on. Here is how you decide who to root for.

The LA Galaxy will meet the Houston Dynamo at 1:30 pm on Saturday at The Home Depot Center for the MLS Cup Final.

While Seattle doesn’t have a horse in the race, so to speak, there are still several reasons to root for both teams.

First, let’s look at the LA Galaxy

The fourth seed out of the Western Conference, the Galaxy are looking for their second consecutive MLS Cup title after topping the Dynamo 1-0 at The Home Depot Center last year. They went 16-12-6 in the regular season and topped the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, San Jose Earthquakes and Sounders FC on their path to the final. They are looking to match DC United with their fourth MLS Cup title.

US Soccer Legend

Galaxy captain Landon Donovan has hinted that me may take a break from soccer after the MLS Cup. He’s not sure if that will be a couple of months and that will recharge him enough to have him back on the field for training camp in February or if will be much more prolonged than that. So this might be the last time to see one of the greats in US Soccer for quite some time.

At 30 years old, Donovan had nine goals and 14 assists and has proven to be incredibly important to the success of US Soccer. Last year he scored the game-winning goal to help the Galaxy lift the cup. Will he be able to replicate that magic on Saturday?

Noonan!

Former Sounders FC forward Pat Noonan is looking for his second MLS Cup title after dropping the final three times with the Revolution in 2005, 2006 and 2007. He went to the Columbus Crew in 2008 and helped them win their first MLS Cup, then played one season with the Colorado Rapids before landing in Seattle in 2010, 

where he remained through the 2011 season.

At 32, Noonan is one of the many nice guys of MLS and he may not feature in the match, but to see him get another championship before he retires would be a great sight to see.

Some Guy Called Beckham

Superstar David Beckham has announced that Saturday’s final will be his last match for the LA Galaxy, pursuing other opportunities after the conclusion of the 2012 season. He has had an immeasurable impact on the league since coming from Real Madrid in 2007, changing the face of the league by opening the door for superstars like Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane and Tim Cahill, among others.

Lifting the MLS Cup would be a fitting conclusion to his six seasons with the Galaxy.

Now onto the Houston Dynamo

The Eastern Conference champions went 14-9-11 to get into the MLS Cup Playoffs as the fifth seed in the East. They beat the Chicago Fire, Sporting Kansas City and DC United to reach the final. The Dynamo moved from San Jose to Houston in 2006 and were instant successes, winning MLS Cup in their first two seasons in Houston.

Local Connections Galore 

Before the Sounders came to MLS in 2009, the Dynamo were the easiest team in the league for Seattlites to root for. In 2008, they featured former Sounders Brian Ching and Craig Waibel, as well as University of Washington product Mike Chabala. Head coach Dominic Kinnear even spent the 1995 season with the A-League champion Sounders.

Now, the ties run even deeper. In addition to Kinnear and Ching, who remain from the 2008 team, the Dynamo now feature Gig Harbor High School product Tally Hall starting in goal, former Kentwood, Seattle University and USL Sounders forward Cam Weaver and former Sounders FC defender/midfielder Nathan Sturgis.

Relishing The Underdog Role

The Dynamo have no business playing in the championship game. Except that they have smashed every hurdle in front of them since the playoffs started, going on the road to topple the Chicago Fire, then ousting the East’s top-seeded Sporting Kansas City before besting DC United in the conference championship series.

LA will be the greatest mountain of all, though. In the Galaxy, they meet a team riddled with superstars at their home field with one of those superstars leaving the team after the match and another hinting that it could be his last in a Galaxy jersey.

Winning Despite Losing

While the Galaxy have had success by acquiring tremendous talent, the Dynamo have succeeded despite losing talent left and right. In the last few years, they have lost Dwayne DeRosario, Stuart Holden, Geoff Cameron and Chris Wondolowski, but still have remained among the top teams in the East.

Although it would have been great to keep talents like Holden and Cameron in MLS, the fact that the Dynamo have been able to succeed even after losing such talents is quite admirable.

Watch the match live on ESPN and let us know in the comments who you are hoping comes out on top.

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