MLS Cup: A look at the Five Key Match-ups

By IVES GALARCEP

CARSON, Calif.– The 2012 MLS Cup Final kicks off on Saturday and while it is a rematch of last year’s final, the match will be a much different match-up than the one we saw at Home Depot Center last year.

The 2012 Houston Dynamo enter the final a much more dangerous team than the one that lost last year’s final. Brad Davis and Oscar Boniek Garcia spearhead an unpredictable attack that may not be as high-powered as the LA Galaxy’s, but is certainly capable of pouncing on mistakes and jumping on defensive weaknesses.

The 2012 Galaxy are arguably a more dangerous team than last year’s, even though the full season didn’t go as smoothly as 2011 went. Robbie Keane is playing the best soccer of his time in MLS and Landon Donovan has been very effective in combining with Keane and Mike Magee to give the Galaxy an even more potent attack than the one that lifted the trophy last season.

Here is a closer look at the key match-ups heading into Saturday’s final:

TOP MATCH-UPS TO WATCH IN MLS CUP

Brad Davis vs. Sean Franklin 

The Dynamo give Davis more freedom to roam than they used to, giving him the license to float centrally and make it tougher for Franklin to lock in on him. It will still be up to Franklin to not give up any dangerous set pieces and also look to get into the attack in order to force Davis to defend.

Ricardo Clark vs. David Beckham

Beckham likes to provide service from deep in midfield, and his probing passes are dangerous enough to unlock the Dynamo defense. Clark must stay tight on the English star and keep him from delivering pin-point service.

Oscar Boniek Garcia vs. Todd Dunivant

The most unpredictable, and arguably most dangerous, attacker for the Dynamo is Boniek Garcia, who always seems to find the gaps in opposing defenses with his relentless movement and intelligent runs. Dunivant is a seasoned veteran who must keep track of Garcia or risk having the Dynamo find success on the attack.

Will Bruin vs. Tommy Meyer

The former Indiana University teammates know each other well, and if the Galaxy stick with Meyer over a recovering A. J. De La Garza, this could be the match-up that decides the final. Bruin’s movement, deceptive quickness and clinical finishing make him a potent threat, but Meyer has shown at times in the playoffs that he can deal with big forwards.

Robbie Keane vs. Bobby Boswell

On paper, this looks like it should be a severe mismatch in the Galaxy’s favor, what with Keane’s quickness proving to be a problem for Boswell, but the Dynamo’s organized defense helps keep Boswell from being isolated and the Dynamo defender is also smart enough to read situations well and put himself in good spots. Boswell must avoid falling for Keane’s feints and fakes, but also avoid getting sucked into midfield, which could leave serious space behind him for Landon Donovan to roam.

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Who do you see getting the better of these match-ups? What match-ups are you most looking forward to seeing on Saturday?

Share your thoughts below.

 

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14 Responses to MLS Cup: A look at the Five Key Match-ups

  1. Iggy says:

    these matchups make me thing houston has a better chance than when you think about the teams overall.

  2. Todd says:

    I don’t see Magee defending Sarkodie’s runs into the attacking third. Boniek is going to have that outlet all day. If Sarkodie can transition those passes into corner kicks or decent crosses… :D

  3. ed - houston says:

    Meyer should start as AJ is not in game shape. we’ll se what happens, have lots of respect for arena.

  4. bottlcaps says:

    Should all five of the match-ups cancel each other out, Houston still have Landon Donovan to contend with. Considering it was Donovan that scored the winning goal last year, Houston is still over matched.

  5. AC says:

    Still see Donovan as the X factor. His perfectly time runs can be a headache for opposing defenses when people like Keane can keep defenders occupied.

  6. Dinho says:

    Magee will come through again. Clutch defined. Book it.

  7. Andy says:

    Magee vs. Sarkodie will be one to watch.

  8. Murphy says:

    This will be a great game I think. Last year we knew Houston wouldn’t do much offensively because Davis was hurt. It will be different this year. I still like the Galaxy’s chances at home… Should be a good one…

  9. Naked Animals says:

    Juninho is an important player as well, I’d think the Dynamo would want to figure out a way to neutralize his impact.

  10. Turgid Jacobian says:

    Robbie Keane is just such a good player. We don’t have any forwards with his degree of intelligence/skill combination. Soon, maybe.