Top Five: Storylines for the MLS Cup

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,Craig Stouffer

Last season the Los Angeles Galaxy prevailed 1-0 over the Houston Dynamo to capture the MLS Cup in front of their own fans at Home Depot Center. Both teams are back at the same venue with the same prize on the line Saturday, but the stakes feel higher. Here's why:

5. It's a rematch with one key difference » This time around Houston has midfielder Brad Davis (eight goals, 12 assists), who was injured for the 2011 final. One of the league's best left-footed midfielders, Davis makes the Dynamo dangerous offensively in a way they simply weren't in last season's final.

4. Two masterful coaches again collide » In guiding the Galaxy to the last year's title, Bruce Arena became the first coach to win three MLS Cups. It came at the expense of Houston's Dominic Kinnear, who has two and has his team in the final for the fourth time in seven years.

3. A Maryland star's return is magnified » The Galaxy defense was lost early in the year without center back Omar Gonzalez, who suffered a torn left ACL during a training session with German club FC Nuremberg in January. Los Angeles was 6-9-2 without the former Terrapins player and 10-3-4 after his return in July.

2. It could be Landon Donovan's last match » Whether he retires permanently remains to be seen, but the 30-year-old American has made it clear he's burned out and needs a break. He's the only player with multiple MLS Cup MVPs after earning his second last year.

1. It will be David Beckham's last match in MLS » The 37-year-old English midfielder's arrival in 2007 marked the start of a new era for MLS, and he has been undeniably influential on and off the field. The last two teams he left -- Manchester United and Real Madrid -- he did so with a championship in hand.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner