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MLS Cup Playoffs Weekend Wrap-Up: It’s a Rematch!

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After a week of the Eastern and Western Conference Championship games, the MLS Cup Final has been set.  In an outcome that was looking more and more predictable during the later games of the playoffs, The Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy both advanced to the Final for the second year in a row.  Houston will have a shot at revenge after the Galaxy narrowly defeated the Dynamo late last year to win the Cup.

Both first legs of the semi finals saw Houston and LA soundly (no pun intended since LA were playing the Sounders) defeat their respective opponents, DC and Seattle.  Houston dominated all 90 minutes of their first match against United in BBVA Compass Stadium, taking a 3-1 aggregate lead into the second leg.  LA did much of the same against the Sounder, shutting them out 3-0, making it very difficult for Seattle to make a comeback in the second leg.

That’s what Seattle almost did last night against LA.  After a first half goal from Eddie Johnson in front of a pack CenturyLink Field, The Sounders had hope once again as they saw the Galaxy’s aggregate lead cut down to just two.  Then in the 57th, Seattle made it very interesting, picking up a second goal after a well placed corner kick found the head of Zach Scott, cutting the aggregate down to just one.  If Seattle got just one more goal, there would potentially be extra time and even possibly penalty shots to determine who would advance.  Then came the controversial hand ball call that completely deflated any hope Seattle had left.  After Robbie Keane tried to make a cross, the ball hit the hand of a Seattle player.  There was nothing he could have done differently, but the call was made for a penalty shot anyway. Keane would put away the PK late in the 68th, sealing LA’s fate and a return to the MLS Cup Final.

It wasn’t the same story in DC, where Houston played out to a 1-1 draw, sending them back to the MLS Cup Final without as much as a hitch in their step.  They were a force throughout the entirety of the playoffs, and there is no question they earned the right to be getting a rematch against LA, which can’t necessarily be said for the Galaxy.  LA has been injury plagued for much of the playoffs, but they seem to come alive at just the right moments, and also seem to have a bit of luck on their side.  Had Seattle actually shown up in the first leg, we may very well be having a different conversation.

This leads to the breakdown and it’s actually quite simple.  Houston is healthy and LA is not.  Despite having two weeks to heal and rejuvenate, one has to be wary of how much more the Galaxy can take.  Landon Donovan, who scored the match winner last year against the Dynamo, sat during last night’s match nursing a hamstring injury that just seems to keep lingering around.  Take away the injuries and Houston is still the better side.  Between Brad Davis and Will Bruin, they Dynamo have been unstoppable, while LA has had to rely heavily on veteran Robbie Keane to generate much of the offense.  At this moment in time, it’s hard to see the Galaxy walking out of the Home Depot Center, where they will have home field advantage, as back to back champions.

The MLS Cup Final is set to kick off in two weeks time on December 1st at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.  PSL will have all your match day coverage live on Twitter.  In the meantime, we want to hear from you!  Who do you think will win the MLS Cup this year?  Will LA be repeat champs?  Or will Houston get sweet revenge and hoist the cup for the third time in their storied history?  Let us know in the comments box or send us a tweet @PhillySportLive.

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