GALAXY: Best MLS team of all time?

November, 16, 2011
11/16/11
10:08
PM PT

CARSON -- If the Galaxy win MLS Cup on Sunday, the debate on Major League Soccer's finest team -- ever -- will be done.


Or will it?

The argument for the Galaxy is strong:
  • A second straight Supporters' Shield (with 67 points, most in the post-shootout era).
  • CONCACAF Champions League success (three Mexican group winners, plus L.A.).
  • The fifth Shield/Cup double, completed with a 4-0 run through the playoffs (with a victory Sunday at Home Depot Center over Houston).
  • A phenomenal campaign by the biggest name in league history (that David Beckham is not an MVP finalist is ridiculous).
  • The effectiveness of a nearly perfectly blended assemblage of stars (Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane), rising talents (Omar Gonzalez and Juninho) and role players (Todd Dunivant, Mike Magee, Josh Saunders, A.J. DeLaGarza, etc.) breeding uncommon consistency and dominance.

Other contenders would include the first-year Galaxy, the second-year D.C. United, expansion Chicago in 1998, Kansas City in 2000, Houston's back-to-back champs in 2006-07 (following San Jose's Supporters' Shield in 2005), and the Columbus Crew in 2008.


How do you compare them? Don't ask Bruce Arena.

The Galaxy coach was in charge of D.C. United when it won the first two MLS Cup titles (rallying from a late 2-0 deficit to beat the Galaxy in '96), and when asked to compare the sides, he blanched.

“I couldn't even compare it. I don't know how you do it,” he said when asked by reporters as the Galaxy prepared for Sunday's clash with the Dynamo. “It's been 15 years, for one thing. I have no idea how you compare it.”

So, the idea this Galaxy team might be the best MLS has seen ...

“I don't know how you do that,” he said. “How do you draw that conclusion? I think I had 10 internationals at D.C. United. I don't know how you do that. I never quite understood that [kind of thinking]. Help me with it if you can?”

Well, there's the 67 points, the league's-best defense, the performances from stars and journeymen alike -- well, all the stuff mentioned above.

“The only thing I would say,” Arena said, “'cause sometimes you can see you're comparing apples and oranges, but that was when there were 10 teams, and now it's 18 teams. So that's a lot harder [to succeed now], I would think.”

Is the league better now? There's certainly more quality in the league, but some of those early teams -- including Arena's D.C. United, which played in each of the first three finals -- had great talent and played with style.

“In the old days, believe me, [early MLS stars Roberto] Donadoni, [Marco] Etcheverry and [Carlos] Valderrama could play in this league today,” Arena said. “I don't know how you compare any of that stuff. I really don't. I could never figure any of that out.”

A BIG DEAL: The Dynamo wrapped up their home preparations Wednesday and will fly to L.A. on Thursday morning, probably do some very light training at UCLA in the afternoon, then there's a news conference and dinner with co-owner Gabriel Brenner.

The real L.A. work will begin Friday, and Houston coach Dominic Kinnear says he hopes to keep things as normal as possible, while noting that the occasion is hardly normal at all.

“This is probably the biggest MLS Cup that we'll see,” Kinnear, who guided the Dynamo to titles in 2006 and 2007, told the league's website Wednesday. “We told the guys, 'We are going out there for a game, but make sure you open your eyes and take it in because you never know when you’re going to be back.' ”

WORTH NOTING: Houston Dynamo co-owner Oscar De La Hoya, the boxer, is chartering a bus to take members of the club's four fans groups -- El Battallon, The Texian Army, Brick Wall and La Bateria -- to Southern California and back to Houston. ... England coach Fabio Capello says Beckham is not in his Euro 2012 plans. ... Kinnear is looking for his fifth championship ring. He was Frank Yallop's top assistant when San Jose won titles in 2001 and 2003, then took charge in 2004 when Yallop departed to become Canada's national team coach. The Quakes moved to Houston after the 2005 season. ... Yallop was the Galaxy's coach in 2006-07 and joined San Jose when the Earthquakes were restored in 2008. ... Elsewhere in MLS, former New England defender Jay Heaps is moving from the broadcast booth to the coach's office, taking the Revs' reins from Steve Nicol. Heaps is the second MLS head coach from Duke University, joining RSL's Jason Kreis. Heaps, who has served as New England's broadcast analyst (while working as a financial analyst for Morgan Stanley) doubled as a basketball player for the Blue Demons.

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