The rich take on the resourceful in MLS Cup Final
By Simon Evans
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The David Beckham era comes to an end in Major League Soccer on Saturday when the L.A. Galaxy face the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup final, aiming to defend their crown.
With Beckham their star attraction for the past six seasons, the Galaxy have been by far MLS's highest profile team, with Ireland's Robbie Keane leading their line and the U.S.'s all-time top scorer Landon Donovan as their main creative force.
The salaries of the Galaxy's 'Big Three' are more than some entire MLS squads, and the chances are that more money is to be splashed on a high-profile foreign replacement for Beckham.
But Saturday's opponents, at L.A.'s Home Depot Center, are proof that success in North American soccer can also come from astute use of limited resources.
Houston coach Dominic Kinnear has proved that point twice before with MLS Cup triumphs in 2006 and 2007 and he took his team to the final last year - where they lost to the Galaxy.
Kinnear, who moved to the U.S. from Scotland as a small child, has managed to produce well-organized, tactically-disciplined and hard-working teams that crucially hit peak form just in time for the MLS play-offs.
It may puzzle outside observers that the Dynamo finished ninth out of 19 teams in the regular season standings but are now 90 minutes away from being declared champions.
However, with MLS following the tried and tested approach of North American sports leagues, rather than the traditions of international soccer, Kinnear has again played it smart. Continued...