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The More Things Change: Houston Dynamo, One Year On

Houston Dynamo v DC United - Eastern Conference Championship - Leg 2

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: Boniek Garcia #27 of Houston Dynamo walks off the field after the first half against D.C. United during leg 2 of the Eastern Conference Championship at RFK Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES -- “I don’t want to talk too much about last year, because it was such a long time ago,” Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear politely told reporters last night. With his team returning to Los Angeles for a second consecutive MLS Cup, the questions are obligatory:

What’s changed since the Dynamo lost to the Galaxy last year? Why is this time going to be different?

The difference in lineups -- between Houston’s 2011 cup final team and the one that’s likely to start tomorrow at Home Depot Center -- lays the case bare. Throughout the team that starts on Saturday, Houston looks stronger. Much stronger.

2011Pos.2012
Tally HallGTally Hall
Andre HainaultRBKofie Sarkodie
Bobby BoswellRCBBobby Boswell
Geoff CameronLCBJermaine Taylor
Jermaine TaylorLBCorey Ashe
Adam MoffatDMAdam Moffat
Danny CruzRMBoniek Garcia
Luiz CarmagoCMRicardo Clark
Corey AsheLMBrad Davis
Calen CarrSSCalen Carr
Brian ChingSTWill Bruin

Of the 11 players Kinnear’s likely to start tomorrow’s game, only four played the same position in last year’s final: Hall, Boswell, Moffat, and Carr. Taylor and Ashe started but were slightly out of position.

The changes leave Houston a much-improved team. Getting Brad Davis back into the team is huge, the team MVP forced to miss last year’s final with a calf injury. Having carried the team at various points in 2011, Davis’s absence in Carson was devestating.

On the opposite flank, Boniek Garcia (above) has quickly become the best right midfielder in the league. Sorry Mauro Rosales fans, durability matters. While your guy is among the best in the league regardless of position when healthy, Garcia isn’t far off. And his durability is incredible.

Will Bruin’s proven more dangerous up top, Ashe and Kofie Sardokie are legitimate fullbacks (as opposed to repurposed central defenders), while the re-acquisition of Ricardo Clark gives Houston a midfield that could potentially lock down LA’s. If you’re a Galaxy fan, how comfortable are you with David Beckham and Juninho against Clark and Moffat?

While the loss of Geoff Cameron seems huge on paper, it hasn’t be a problem. Taylor has had a very good season, while Boswell has stepped up after the departure of his central defense partner. The 29-year-old had one of the better seasons of his career.

Maybe that’s while Kinnear doesn’t want to talk about the past. True, nobody likes talking about near misses, but the real reason might be its lack of relevance. This year’s team is much more capable of pulling off an upset.