The Los Angeles Galaxy are MLS Cup champions for the fifth time in history.
Led by league MVP Robbie Keane and Galaxy icon Landon Donovan, the team pushed the visiting New England Revolution over the ledge in a hotly contested game in Carson, California.
Both teams started the game looking out of sorts, maybe reacting to the enormous pressure on their shoulders. Errant passes and missed opportunities plagued both teams as they attempted to calm themselves.
The Galaxy controlled much of the early going. They had multiple chances inside the Revolutions third of the field but could not string enough passes together to create a serious chance on goal. Revolution defender Andrew Farrell was the target of most of the Galaxy offense. He was not able to link with his fellow defenders and got into shouting matches with multiple team mates throughout the game.
New England had a very difficult time controlling the ball. MVP candidate Lee Nguyen rarely got involved and when he did he wasn’t able to match the output his team require of him.
The best chances the Revolution were able to produce early on were a pair of Charlie Davies attacks. He has a run into the box that was cleared by a perfectly timed tackle by A.J. DeLaGarza. His second try was ended by Marcelo Sarvas, who got a knee to the head for his troubles. He stayed on the ground for a moment but quickly got to his feet.
LA was finally able to take advantage of their offensive opportunities when homegrown talent Gyasi Zardes hammered a shot home in the 52nd minute. Galaxy midfielder Stefan Ishizaki was able to get a cross off that was partially blocked by a defender. The ball eventually fell to Zardes who faked Andrew Farrell to the ground and buried the ball in the sidenetting.
Nguyen and Jermaine Jones tried their best to spark some kinf od offensive production from their midfield positions but Galaxy midfielders Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho were fantastic in shutting them down at every turn. The two team mates played off each other well all day and accomplished the goal of cutting off angles on defense while simultaneously linking with forwards and pushing the Galaxy offense up the field, something the Revolution were looking for from Nguyen and Jones. This championship winning performance cemented Sarvas and Juninho as the best midfield tandem in MLS.
The Revolution finally broke down the Galaxy defense in the 79th minute when substitute Patrick Mullins attack the backline and quickly crossed to oncoming team mate Chris Tierney. Tierney put just enough on his attempt to send the ball LA goal keeper Jaime Penedo. The goal came when the game seemed in hand for the Galaxy.
Just moments later, Teal Bunbury chipped the ball over Penedo but was denied by the post. The ball hit the post as Penedo was back tracking to try and make a save. Penedo was badly out of position to make a save, and if a goal was scored there would have been little time for a Galaxy comeback.
The teams stood toe to toe heading into overtime. The Revolution were without Nguyen who was substituted out of the game due to an injury.
Both teams sent everything forward trying to win the game rather than sitting back afraid to make a mistake. Players were grabbing at their legs and bent over gasping for air, yet they pushed forward.
The Galaxy broke the deadlock in the 111th minute of play when Keane scored on a beautiful play that started in midfield. It was a perfect moment for the newly crowned MLS MVP.
Referee Mark Geiger blew the final whistle just minutes later and the stadium erupted. It marked the fifth all time league championship for LA, most all-time. The team raised the trophy as confetti rained down.
It was a storybook ending for MLS. The league’s most popular and important team won their third championship in four seasons and superstar Landon Donovan retired with his sixth MLS Cup, another all-time record. This team had a feeling of destiny to it heading into this game and all of those feelings were proven correct.
The LA Galaxy deserved this championship and they earned it every step of the way in 2014.