History will be made at MLS Cup
Los Angeles and Houston collide Sunday night (9 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN3) to decide the 2011 MLS champion. Here are five notes on the 16th MLS Cup.
• Either Houston or Los Angeles will join D.C. United as the only franchises with three MLS titles. United has won four crowns, most recently in 2004. Either Bruce Arena or Dominic Kinnear will become the first coach to win three MLS titles. Arena would also join Sigi Schmid, who is the only coach to win MLS championships with two different clubs. Schmid won with Los Angeles in 2002 and Columbus in 2008. Arena won his two titles with D.C. United.
• With the Home Depot Center hosting its record fourth MLS Cup, the Galaxy will be the third team to play the Cup at its home stadium. Los Angeles was the villain in 2002, defeating New England 1-0 at Gillette Stadium on a Carlos Ruiz goal in overtime. Arena's D.C. United had better fortune at home, triumphing 2-1 over Colorado in 1997 in front of 57,431 at RFK Stadium.
• This is the fifth MLS Cup for Landon Donovan, who owns the career scoring record in the MLS playoffs (19 goals) and MLS Cup (3 goals). He scored San Jose's tying goal in a 2-1 comeback win in 2001. He also tallied twice in the Earthquakes' 4-2 defeat of Chicago in 2003, when he was named MLS Cup MVP. The only player to win two MLS Cup MVP awards is Dwayne De Rosario, in 2001 with San Jose and 2007 with Houston.
• David Beckham's contract with Los Angeles expires after the season and he could complete a hat trick of leaving on top. He won the league title in his final campaign with Manchester United in 2003 and Real Madrid in 2007.
• The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that over the last three seasons, Houston leads MLS with 38 goals on set pieces and Los Angeles is second with 33. The key figure in the Dynamo's success has been Brad Davis, who will miss MLS Cup with a torn right quad. Davis assisted on 20 of those goals and scored two. No other player had more than 10 assists on set pieces in that time span.