GALAXY: No Davis? We'll see
November, 9, 2011
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Brett Davis/US PresswireAs far as Brad Davis not playing in MLS Cup, the Galaxy say they'll believe it when they see it.
CARSON -- The Houston Dynamo are chirping about how they can, and will, win Major League Soccer's championship without Brad Davis, the expected league MVP, who will sit out the Nov. 20 title game at Home Depot Center because of a torn quadriceps muscle.
The Galaxy aren't sure Davis won't be in orange.
“I think that until he's not playing, until he's not on the field in the final, we're still thinking he's going to play, most likely,” said Galaxy defender/assistant coach Gregg Berhalter. “I would have to personally check him to believe that he's not going to give it everything he's got to play in that game. So we'll see.”
Davis says he's done after tearing his right quadriceps in Houston's victory at Sporting Kansas City in Sunday's Eastern Conference final, and his absence alters how the Dynamo approach nearly everything. He's the primary distributor, delivering on-target crosses and penetrating through balls, the player around whom the attack revolves.
“It hurts losing him,” Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall told The Houston Chronicle. “But at the same time, I feel like we have a deep team. We have a team of dangerous players, and I think we've proven that even without Brad.”
But losing Davis is “huge,” said Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez.
“He has a great left foot, and he puts the ball where he wants it ...,” MLS's Defender of the Year said. “He's probably been their best player, and they're going to miss him. It sucks that he won't play in this game, because it'll make for a better game, but I'm sure they'll have someone serving in balls that are just as good. If someone puts in a decent cross, they have guys who can get on the end of it.”
Said Berhalter: “They're a very organized team, they're a very physical team, they know exactly what they want to do and how they're going to do it. They never give up, and they're very determined. We don't take them lightly at all. We think they're experienced, they're well-organized and they fight for everything. It's going to be a very difficult game. It's not going to be easy.”
Berhalter said the Galaxy would “prepare for both scenarios” -- Davis in or out -- and “if he's on the field, he's probably the second-best in the league [after David Beckham] at hitting crosses in. And if he's not on the field, they'll just have a different dynamic. They'll have a little bit more speed on the wing, but they lose some of those pinpoint crosses.
“I'll believe [he's not playing] when I see it.”
BACK IN CAMP: The Galaxy returned to training after a couple of days off, but MLS Cup isn't yet on their horizon.
What they're looking to accomplish this week “has nothing to do with the game next Sunday,” coach Bruce Arena said. “Just getting them back into the swing of things, the right balance between rest and getting them moving again, and next week we'll start focusing on the game.”
The Galaxy's preparations are aided by Landon Donovan's presence -- he pulled out of the U.S. national team's trip to Paris for Friday's friendly against France. Forward Robbie Keane is with Ireland's national team for Euro 2012 qualifiers, and midfielder Chris Birchall is with Trinidad & Tobago's for World Cup qualifying. They'll return to the Galaxy midweek next week.
“It helps [to have Donovan here],” Arena said. “We wish all our players were here.”
Donovan's decision to pull out wasn't unexpected, even as he talked following Sunday's Western Conference title-game win over Real Salt Lake about going to France. He missed almost all of October because of a quadriceps injury and is still dealing with its remnants.
“He's a little physically broken down,” Arena said. “He needs to rest.”
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in a statement Monday that he was disappointed Donovan wouldn't be in France but that he respected the Galaxy captain's decision. Arena was asked about this.
“I think any player that's in the MLS Cup final should be excused from international friendlies, in this kind of scenario,” he said. “I think this competition takes precedence to a friendly. In my opinion. But I didn't partake in that exchange. That was between Landon and Jurgen.”
WORTH NOTING: The latest club angling for Beckham: Club Tijuana. Eurosport reports that the Mexican Primera Division club has offered him a contract worth nearly $1.36 million per month, with a home in Coronado, in San Diego County, valued at about $4 million and access to a private jet for transport between Coronado and Tijuana. ... Houston's allotment of 900 tickets for the MLS Cup final sold out in minutes. ... Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre acknowledged that Rafa Marquez wasn't called in for El Tri's friendly Friday against Serbia because of his indiscipline in throwing the ball at Donovan at the end of the Galaxy's first-leg win over New York in the first round of the playoffs. “I think it’s clear: Discipline is always going to be a priority in the national team,” de la Torre told media in Mexico City.