MLS Cup Final 2014: Preview and Prediction


The end is finally here. The journey started ten months ago, with nineteen clubs all vying to be the MLS Cup champion. Now, only two clubs remain.

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The Western Conference Champions, and four-time MLS Cup champions Los Angeles Galaxy — who finished the season with Major League Soccer’s second best record — will host the Eastern Conference Champions New England Revolution.

They both have much to play for in this final. For Los Angeles, the fairy tale ending for arguably the greatest ever American soccer player in Landon Donovan. Not to mention the fact that with a win over New England, Los Angeles would set themselves alone at the top of MLS Soccer, winning five MLS Cup titles, breaking the tie they currently share with DC United.

On the other side of this battle, New England will be looking to win their first MLS Cup title. New England remains the only club from Major League Soccer’s inaugural season to have not won an MLS Cup or Supporters Shield.

How They Got Here

Both Clubs have faced tough roads to get to this moment. Los Angeles finished second in the Western Conference. The club also had the league’s second best record, finishing second in both league and conference, behind the Supporters Shield winners Seattle Sounders.

Los Angeles would go on to defeat Real Salt Lake with a 5-0 aggregate, after a five goal explosion at home in the second leg of the tie. Los Angeles would then go on to benefit from the league’s new away goals rule, defeating the Seattle Sounders 2-2 on away goals, making way for a league record eighth MLS Cup final appearance.

New England, like Los Angeles, used an explosive offense to propel them to the MLS Cup final. Thanks to four playoff goals from forward Charlie Davies, New England has found a way back to the MLS Cup final for the first time since 2007. Total domination of the Columbus Crew in the Conference Semi-finals set up a conference final tie against Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls.

Taking a win at Red Bull Arena set New England up for a chance to win the conference. Drawing New York at home thanks to two Charlie Davies goals have sent New England to the MLS Cup final, giving them a chance to win the club’s first major MLS trophy.

The Big Names

Leading Los Angeles to this point, is the United States all-time leader in goals, assists, and appearances — Landon Donovan. Donovan announced during the summer that this would be his final season as a professional soccer player. Making it back to the MLS Cup final gives Donovan a chance at his sixth MLS Cup title, extending his record for player with most MLS Cup titles.

Also providing some emotional motivation for LA will be AJ DeLaGarza. DeLaGarza’s infant son, Luca, died a week after birth. The squad quickly rallied around the defender, using the loss as motivation for the whole squad.

As for New England, where do we start. Lee Nguyen led the club in scoring this season, seeing a resurgence in form with his best professional campaign ever, including a recall to the United States national team after seven years.

The mid-season acquisition of United States star Jermain Jones helped improve the squad, propelling them up the table and into the position that they are now in. Winning the MLS Cup on his first try will prove Jones’ worth to all of the fans  who doubted his abilities.

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Finally we have forward Charlie Davies. Davies — who was once seen as a future star for the United States — suffered major injuries from an accident in Washington DC, in 2009. Davies’ injuries included a fractured right tibia, femur and elbow; there was also bleeding in the brain.

It would be almost six months before Davies was cleared to resume training with his club, far too late for a World Cup Call-up. Since then, Davies has fought his way back, becoming a major piece for the Revolution, also scoring four goals during the playoffs.

The Match

Both sides have a reason to play. Both have a reason to win. But which one will be able to top the other and become the MLS Cup Champion? Los Angeles as hosts, should have an advantage in the match. The capacity crowd at the Home Depot Center will play a part as long as they perform well.

New England will need to control the action early, helping dictate the tempo of the match. Limiting the opportunities of both Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane will be key for New England if they hope to win the match.

For Los Angeles, scoring an early goal and keeping the crowd involved will give the home side a huge advantage. Controlling the passing space between Jermain Jones and Lee Nguyen will provide some insight on the final result of the match.

As long as Los Angeles can keep the crowd involved and hold the midfield, they should win the match easily. However, any opening given to New England will be exploited. If New England can capitalize on these openings, they will give themselves a fighting chance at winning their first MLS Cup.


Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 New England Revolution