Houston's mission to dim Galaxy's brightest star
Clubs differ in their approach, however, and Houston’s top earner, Brad Davis – like Beckham, a dead ball specialist who plays out wide – takes home less than a tenth of Keane’s salary, with more, though not all that many more, of the club’s players earning between €75,000 and €175,000 a year.
Dynamo’s history is an odd one: until 2007 the club was based in San Jose and called the Earthquakes.
It was successful (counting that earlier incarnation, they and Galaxy have dominated MLS between them for more than a decade, with tonight’s showdown making it a combined eight titles in 12 seasons) but its owners became frustrated at their inability to get a new stadium built so they moved everything, including the players and current coach, Glasgow-born Dominic Kinnear, south.
A new club, with new owners but the same name, was established to replace them in San Jose.
Meanwhile, the old owners, Anschutz Entertainment, an enormous entity that owns more sports clubs and events than anyone else in the world (and a big investor in MLS), sold part of their stake to Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
But they retained a quarter interest in the relocated “franchise” and that, as it happens, is the same percentage as they own in LA Galaxy.
Only in America, eh?
States of play What is the MLS Cup?
The MLS Cup is the annual match to decide Major League Soccer’s champion team. It is played between the winners of the Eastern and Western Conferences, which are decided by a series of play-offs between the top 10 teams from the regular season.
Both finalists are awarded places in the Concacaf Champions League to decide the North and Central America and Caribbean region’s top club side.
DC United won the inaugural final in 1996 and have won a record four titles, followed by Los Angeles with three then Houston and San Jose, with two each.
LA Galaxy won the title in 2002, 2005 and last season, beating Houston at home in the final. They were also runners-up in 1996, 1999, 2001 and 2009.
They finished the regular season as the fourth-ranked team in the Western Conference then beat the Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference final to qualify for the final.
Houston Dynamo won the title in 2006 and 2007 and are appearing in their fourth final.
They finished the regular season as the fifth-ranked team in the Eastern Conference and beat Chicago Fire, Sporting Kansas City and DC United to qualify for the final.