MLS Cup, Madrid derby

A weekly insight into local, national, and international soccer, “Anything but Quakes” previews the best matches of the week ahead.

Welcome to the first installment of the weekly, “Anything but Quakes.” We will select certain local, national, and international games to preview and analyze.

Game of the Week:

LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo, MLS Cup, Dec. 1, 1:30 p.m. PST on ESPN

A rematch of 2011, the LA Galaxy face the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 1:30 p.m.

Quakes fans may still be bitter about a premature exit from the MLS Cup Playoffs and a replay of last year’s matchup may not add much consolation.  Yet, there are plenty of storylines for Quakes fans to keep an eye on ahead of the match.

Dominic Kinnear has once again led his troops through the trenches and into the MLS Cup Championship. Kinnear, who assisted 2012 MLS Coach of the Year Frank Yallop from 2001 to 2003 in San Jose, garnered the fifth and final seed in the Eastern Conference. Like recent Dynamo teams, Kinnear has built a resolute squad eager to take on any opponent.

David Beckham’s MLS tenure is coming to an imminent close. After six seasons with the LA Galaxy, the 37-year-old Beckham has ignited a media firestorm surrounding his next possible venture. He has been linked to ownership groups, a January transfer to Premier League side QPR, or a short spell with Australia’s A-League. Love him or hate him, even his move will make international headlines.

With a team full of veterans pitted against a team without a central figurehead, the MLS Cup should prove its mettle once again.

International Game of the Week:

Real Madrid vs. Atlético Madrid, Dec. 1, Santiago Bernabéu

Los Merengues could not have fathomed a worse start to their campaign. Like the fractured relationship between Michael Corleone and his older brother, Fredo, in the beginning of the “The Godfather Part II”, more worry has surrounded the commonly overshadowed sibling rather than the heir apparent.

In this narrative, Fredo is the historically working class Atlético Madrid and the heir apparent is their glamorized cross-town rival, Real Madrid.

Real finds themselves in third place after 13 games with 26 points; 11 points behind archrival and potential Catalonian separatists Barcelona and eight points behind Atlético.

The Madrid derby, though, may be the wake-up call that Mourinho’s men need to not only regain their supremacy in La Comunidad de Madrid but also to contend for the La Liga title.

When the two-sides met on April 11, 2012, Cristiano Ronaldo rose to the occasion – bagging a hat-trick including two astonishing long-range efforts. The Portuguese’s effort helped push his club to their first La Liga title since the 2007/2008 season.

Yet, Cristiano Ronaldo, despite scoring 12 league goals thus far, has not scored in Real’s past three matches. Meanwhile, Atlético’s frontman, Colombian Radamel Falcao, has paced his squad with 11 goals in 12 matches played.

Mourinho and company are desperate for a win. If his track record has proven anything, Mourinho’s Real Madrid side will be tactically prepared to grind out the three points.

Notable Games:

U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Ireland on Nov. 28, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. PST on Fox Soccer:
Interim head coach Jillian Ellis is set to lead the US Women against Ireland.

NCAA Men’s College Cup Quarterfinals, Nov. 30 to Dec. 1:
With eight teams remaining, the ACC is well-poised to hoist the championship trophy yet again. UNC and Maryland look to head into the Final Four after matching up against Indiana and Louisville respectively in the quarterfinals.

NCAA Women’s College Cup Final Four, Nov. 30:
Stanford, UNC, Florida State, and Penn State make up the Final Four. Traditional powers Stanford and UNC make up one electric semifinal matchup. Stanford women seek their second consecutive national championship.


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