Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
CARSON, Calif. - If there was any doubt as to whether David Beckham was going to play in the MLS Cup final, it should be gone now.
Having missed training the last couple of days with a cold, Beckham squashed any concerns over his health following the Los Angeles Galaxy's practice session inside a chilly Home Depot Center on Saturday afternoon.
"Feeling good," said Beckham. "Sat out obviously the last couple days, but good to be back out there with the guys and as a team we're ready. … My body feels great, so it shouldn't be a problem, shouldn't be an issue."
Beckham may have gotten over his cold, but flags were raised during the training session when a Galaxy spokesman told reporters that the midfielder was listed as questionable for the championship bout against the Houston Dynamo with back spasms.
Again, Beckham put any lingering fear to rest.
"Obviously, I had issues with my back all season, but I was able to train today and come through with no problem, so it's all good," said Beckham.
The Galaxy are relying on Beckham to help them win their first MLS Cup since 2005. Should that happen, Beckham would claim his first league championship with Los Angeles after failing to do so in 2009.
"Hopefully as a championship winner," said Beckham of what he hopes his legacy with the Galaxy is. "That's the important part for the club and it's what you work hard for all year, so hopefully the work pays off tomorrow."
Here are more MLS Cup notes from Saturday:
HALL DISCUSSES PK APPROACH
Goalkeeper Tally Hall has been a key figure for the Houston Dynamo all season, and there's the possibility that he'll have to be the go-to guy in the final.
If the game is deadlocked and heads into penalty kicks, Hall would go up against some of the Los Angeles Galaxy's star-studded players, a group that includes Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
Hall said he hasn't studied the Galaxy players' shooting tendencies this week, but he has done and seen enough in the past to know what he'd be up against.
"I've done enough homework to know that pretty much every player on their team taking a penalty can score either way," said Hall. "It doesn't really help me. Listen, most players here are good enough to go two ways consistently and score, so it's sometimes a premonition, sometimes it's just straight up reading."
Asked how he'd plan to go up against one of the league's better penalty takers in Donovan, Hall revealed his strategy to counter Donovan's ability and patience when shooting from the spot.
"I guess you have to react to it," said Hall. "You can't really read it because he's good enough to switch which way he's going at the last minute. You can't go too early because he'll beat you with ease, so you've just got to be smart about it and hope for the best."
GALAXY, DYNAMO FOCUSING ON SET PIECES
David Beckham may have great delivery on his set pieces, but the Houston Dynamo does, too.
Even with its set-piece king Brad Davis sidelined with injury for Sunday's game, the Dynamo are looking to take advantage of corner kicks and free kicks. That should be no surprise for a team with the likes of Brian Ching, Geoff Cameron and Bobby Boswell.
The question that remains, though, is who will take those set pieces in Davis' absence. Houston coach Dom Kinnear has options, and at least one player is willing to pick up Davis' slack if called upon.
"(Davis') quality is unbelievable, some of the best I've ever seen. Really, really world class," said Houston Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat, who manned set pieces in Davis' place in the Eastern Conference final. "I can't replicate that, but I can put a decent ball in, and we've got the guys who can attack that. Hopefully I can contribute there again."
The Dynamo won't catch the Galaxy by surprise with their set piece mastery, however, as Los Angeles is keenly aware of Houston's ability.
"We're playing a team that's scored, I think, 22 goals on set pieces this year, miles more than the next closest team," Donovan said. "So we'd be ignorant not to pay attention to that and we have, and that's really just an attitude in wanting it more. That part is going to be a big part of the game."
CAMERON REVEALS PRE-GAME RITUAL
Every player has their pre-game rituals, but Geoff Cameron doesn't begin his in the hours just before games.
Instead, they start as soon as he wakes up on gamedays.
"My superstition is I have to eat, wake up, shower at the exact same time," said Cameron. "A couple hours before the game I have everything laid out. It's very regimented. I'm very OCD when it comes to organizing, neat, cleats are a certain way, my cleats are washed and clean."
What happens when things don't work out that way?
"If I don't, if I feel uncomfortable, I'll redo it," said Cameron. "It's just superstition of getting in the habit of being focused. If things are out of wack, I'll kind of redo everything and get back on track."