Brad Davis, Houston’s best player throughout the 2011 season, will miss the 2011 MLS Cup final with a thigh injury (Photo credit: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Brad Davis walked without a limp and looked like someone ready to play in Sunday’s MLS Cup Final, but he won’t.
The MLS MVP finalist and leader of the Houston attack is still out for Sunday’s final with a torn thigh muscle that is expected to keep him sidelined for the next six weeks. Davis has experienced winning championships before, having two two MLS Cups with the Dynamo, and while he won’t play Sunday, he will be with the team cheering on the Dynamo as they go for their third championship in six years.
“For me, not being able to play is not the best feeling in the world, but I’m happy for these guys that haven’t been here yet to get this opportunity,” Davis said. “I’m disappointed for myself, but unbelievably happy for my team.”
Davis will be on the bench with the Dynamo on Sunday, but he ruled out any surprises or late-game appearances. That isn’t stopping him from being nervous about Sunday’s final.
“I think I’m more nervous now than when I knew I was going to be able to play in the (championship) games,” Davis said. “When you have to sit there and watch, and you know you can’t go out there and make a difference, it’s tough.”
With Davis sidelined, the Dynamo are expected to turn to Corey Ashe to man the left wing spot. Ashe is no stranger to the position, having spent much of his five-year MLS career playing on the left wing before moving to left back earlier this season.
“That’s the position I’ve played for a while so I just have to wrap my head around the attacking part of it,” Ashe said of filling into Davis’ starting spot.. “A majority of the season I’ve been focusing on defending. Just working on linking up with the forwards, getting good service into the box and just creating more opportunities in the attacking third.
“It should be a fun one, a tough one,” Ashe said of the challenge of facing the Galaxy’s vaunted attack. “Landon Donovan is the best player in the league and you have to worry about where he is at all times.
“Sean Franklin is fast and they have a good partnership,” Ashe said. “If I’m playing left midfield, whoever is playing left back we’re just going to have to make sure we’re on the same page.”
Ashe had been starting at left back before Davis’ injury, but with Ashe likely to play on the left wing, Jamaican defender Jermaine Taylor is expected to start at left back, where he filled in during Houston’s Eastern Conference victory against Sporting Kansas City.
ARENA DOWNPLAYS LAST HURRAH
Bruce Arena wasn’t buying the theory that this LA Galaxy squad could be facing its last hurrah on Sunday, what with the potential departure of David Beckham and some other key members of the roster. He rebuilt the Galaxy in 2009, and has managed to keep the roster stocked ever since, so he is fully confident the Galaxy will remain a strong team no matter who leaves.
“We lose guys every year,” Arena said. “We lost Edson Buddle last year and I was told that the roof’s caving in. The year before we lost players. Every year it’s a part of it and, with the exception of the big clubs in the world that don’t have to necessarily trade players to reach a cap or they need the funding, most teams have changes every year.
“That’s the case with us every year,” Arena said. “It will be next year, and that’s all part of it.
“I’m not thinking about next year but my goal next year is to have a better team.”
HALL TAKES DIFFERENT ROAD TO MLS CUP
When the MLS Cup final kicks off on Sunday, there will be one goalkeeper playing who was drafted by the LA Galaxy, and it wasn’t Galaxy starter Josh Saunders.
Tally Hall was selected by the Galaxy with the 44th pick in the 2007 MLS Draft, and rather than take a modest developmental player salary, he bolted for Europe, where he spent two uneventful years at Esbjerg in Denmark before returning to MLS and signing with the Dynamo.
“I didn’t want to get paid $12,000 if I had the opportunity to get paid a bit more,” Hall said of his decision to go to Europe. “It wasn’t mostly based on financial stuff. I was young and I had the dream of playing in Europe and I had the opportunity, so why not?”
Hall served as Pat Onstad’s understudy for two seasons before taking over in 2011 after Onstad retired. He responded to the new role by posting an All-Star-worthy season. He credits the experience of going to Europe with helping him mature, while also helping him develop a stronger respect for MLS.
“I learned a lot about what European soccer is for the most part,” Hall said. “It’s not all the glitz and glamour of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t know that, but coming back here I realize that people don’t give MLS enough credit for how they would do against most European teams.
“I think the Dynamo beats my (former) Danish team more times than not,” Hall said. “We’re a good league and people don’t give us enough credit.”