With their backs against it, the LA Galaxy were able to turn their season around, and now host MLS Cup after looking like they might finish at the bottom of the table.
One of the new hitches in this year's MLS Cup playoffs is the higher seed hosting the final. This worked out about as well as it could for the Galaxy, with the only possible lower seed making it to the Cup final. However, in talking to the LA Times, Bruce Arena didn't think it was all that great of an advantage.
"We could play this in Anchorage if they asked us to. [But] playing at home should be an advantage in an MLS Cup. We hope it helps us a little bit, because we're going to need all the help we can get. I'd rather be playing in L.A. than Houston."
It is a bit of an advantage, considering the Houston Dynamo have only scored one goal in their last five visits to The Home Depot Center (statistics according to Opta Sport). Last year in the MLS Cup playing in Los Angeles, the Galaxy outshot the Dynamo nine to six despite Houston out-passing the Galaxy 451 to 397.
This time around Houston will have their top playmaker in Brad Davis, who has created more chances than any other MLS player since 2011. His free kicks have set up his teammates at a rate that even David Beckham falls short of. Of course, Beckham can boast more free kick goals than any other MLS player since 2011 with five.
Last year in the MLS Cup there was but one goal, and it didn't come from Houston nor did it come from a free kick. It was from the run of play, which has been LA's specialty this season. Again going back to the start of the 2011 MLS season, no player has created as many chances from open play as Landon Donovan with 111.
Not only has the Galaxy ground game been spectacular, but I argued earlier that Landon Donovan really got the team turned around when things looked bleakest. Bruce Arena told reporters earlier that things indeed were rough, but that you just have to keep positive and carry on.
"I've been in this these situations before and you've got to kind of work at it and you've got to keep as positive as you can. Not that it was all peaches and cream around here, believe me. But we slowly got ourselves out of it."
LA kept positive and were able to turn things around all the way to the MLS Cup.