Head coach Dominic Kinnear of the Houston Dynamo, Head Coach Bruce Arena of the Los Angeles Galaxy
HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 11: Head coach Dominic Kinnear of the Houston Dynamo applauds the crowd after defeating D.C. United in Leg 1 of the Eastern Conference Championship during Leg 1 of the MLS Eastern Conference Championship at BBVA Compass Stadium on November 11, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Houston wins 3-1. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 05: Head Coach Bruce Arena of the Los Angeles Galaxy walks off the pitch after the match against the Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field on August 5, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. The Sounders defeated the Galaxy 4-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
MLS Conference Championships, Second Leg Previews:
MLS will whittle its quartet of title contenders down to two on Sunday. Houston and Los Angeles enter the conference championship second legs with healthy advantages on aggregate, but DC United and Seattle will hope to turn the ties around when they host the second legs. Read on to find out more about the matchups and the key players who may influence them:
Key man for Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall
Hall provided a steady and sometimes spectacular presence between the sticks for the Dynamo this season. He must submit a similar performance at RFK Stadium to ensure the home side does not find a way to grab a foothold in the series.
Key man for DC United: Dwayne De Rosario
De Rosario's Willis Reed moment could come during the second half at RFK Stadium. The Canadian international hasn't played since September after suffering a left knee injury during a World Cup qualifier. His belated injection of creativity and incisiveness could provide the boost required to secure a famous victory.
DC United vs. Houston Dynamo (Dynamo leads 3-1 on aggregate)
Houston took care of business in the first leg to set up an interesting return match at RFK Stadium. United looked like the better side at times at Houston, but it faces several significant injury (Brandon McDonald and Chris Pontius, for starters) and selection concerns ahead of this encounter. Those issues won't stop United from trying to halt the Dynamo's march to a second straight MLS Cup appearance, though.
Key man for Galaxy: Omar Gonzalez
The aspiring US defender shored up the Galaxy's defensive concerns when he returned from a knee injury in July. He and his teammates will face a stern test to hold out at raucous CenturyLink Field on Sunday night. If he can marshal the back four as well as he has over the past few years, then the Galaxy will go through.
Key man for Sounders: Fredy Montero
It is well past time for the talented Montero to deliver in the postseason. No goals in nine career postseason appearances, represents an unacceptable return for a player of his caliber. He will likely have to break that duck in order for Seattle to have a chance to claim its first MLS Cup berth.
Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (LA leads 3-0 aggregate)
A dominant first leg display at the Home Depot Center bolstered the holders' chances of returning to MLS Cup. The job isn't done yet, however. Seattle mounted a furious comeback when placed in a similar situation by Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semifinals last year. That bid came up short, but the Sounders aren't out of this series yet.