They flew into LAX late Thursday afternoon, an arrival time not dissimilar to any other game in Carson.
They are staying at the same Torrance hotel all MLS teams customarily do.
And their practice schedule this week has been nothing out of the ordinary either.
“We’re just trying to keep it as normal as possible,” said Houston coach Dominc Kinnear in a media availability at the hotel minutes after stepping off their flight that attracted only a handful of reporters.
Also normal: playing the Galaxy tough in an effort to throw the likes of Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan off their game. Kinnear is mindful not to let the on form Keane run at will at the Dynamo back line as he did, for instance, against Seattle.
“You have to play these guys physical. … They can mesmerize you with their movement and their touches,” Kinnear said. “You can’t be nice out there with these guys. I’m not saying go out there and boot them. But you have to make sure what they do is met with pressure and they don’t get free runs in.”
Kinnear is not known for throwing inflammatory quotes around and he’s not exhorting his team to take revenge for last year’s 1-0 loss:
“We just want to win the game, that’s all. Everybody knows what happened last year. … There’s no revenge here. If we win we don’t get the cup from 2011; it’s theirs. Our main objective is to try to win the game and win MLS Cup 2012.
“Last year, I don’t think we played well. So there was nothing in the game that was out of our control. They beat us. We lost the game. We worked ever so hard to get back here. There’s a lot of coincidences: same stadium, same opponent, but that’s about as far as it goes. If we’re so focused on revenge then you kind of lose focus on what we want to do and that’s to win the game.
“They’re a better team than they were last year and I think we are, too.”