A classic East vs. West battle is the scenario for the 2014 MLS cup finals as the red-hot New England Revolution head for the coast looking to defeat the Los Angeles Galaxy and spoil Landon Donovan’s swan song.
After an exciting start, the MLS playoff conference finals hit a new level of entertainment as some big names and big cities played for the right to earn the Phillip F. Anschutz Trophy.
New England knocked out the Red Bulls and effectively ended Thierry Henry’s MLS career as he announced he was leaving New York just two days after.
The growing rivalry between Seattle and LA peaked this season as they met five times, each team scoring six goals, winning two games and drawing once. The Galaxy advanced on away goals thanks to a 54th minute volley from midfielder Juninho in what was his first time finding the back of the net in 14 months.
“I can’t get over the fact that my Red Bulls are done for the year,” said Ramapo senior Pete Rocchio. “Both [New England and Los Angeles] played well this season and they deserve to be there.”
The Revolution have gone 11-2, including playoffs, since signing United States national team star Jermaine Jones over the summer. Jones has been the difference maker for the Revs, as his experience and skill have catapulted this team from above average to potential champs. MVP snub Lee Nguyen can add to the European buzz that has been attached to his name with a quality performance in his first final.
“The Revolution are a young team, Jones is new to MLS. It’s a new experience for them,” said Rocchio. “LA on the other hand, they have been here before and they have Donovan.”
It’s far from a first for LA as they try to capture their third title in four years in an attempt to bring the club’s total to five. A win for the Galaxy on Sunday will turn this group into a dynasty and write the perfect script for what will probably be Donovan’s last game as a pro.
Arguably the most important player in MLS history, Donovan is walking away from the game just seven months after being left off the 2014 World Cup roster and he’s doing it in spectacular fashion. Donovan and MLS MVP Robbie Keene have combined for four goals and five assists in the playoffs as they lead their team into this notable clash.
Experience, talent, Landon Donovan’s retirement and home field advantage give the Galaxy a serious edge. The core of this squad has been together for several years now and they are very comfortable dealing with the pressure that comes with a winner take all match.
New England has the makings of a championship team as all of their pieces have fallen into place late in the year and they began this current run of dominance.
The Revs may have momentum, but Los Angeles has destiny and sometimes that’s far more powerful. The match kicks off on ESPN at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7.