Why LA Galaxy vs. New England Would Be Best MLS Cup Final

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 27, 2014

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Landon Donovan #10 of the Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates after scoring his second goal of the match, in the second half against Real Salt Lake in Leg 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals at StubHub Center on November 9, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  The Galaxy won 5-0 to advance to the conference finals.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Two results this weekend will determine the participants in the 2014 MLS Cup final. Los Angeles and New England hold leads in their respective series entering the weekend, but there is no guarantee either side will make the final. 

If fans of the league want to see the best MLS Cup possible, they will be rooting for those two teams to finish off Seattle and New York in the second leg of the conference-final round. 

The obvious headline with the Galaxy in the final would be the retirement of Landon Donovan. The American legend is the league's all-time leader in goals and assists, and he has a knack for performing well in big games. 

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Landon Donovan  #10 of the Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates as he returns to midfield after scoring the Galaxy's first goal against Real Salt Lake in Leg 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals at StubHub Center on November 9,
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Having the best player to ever step foot on an MLS field end his career by hoisting a trophy would be the perfect ending for Donovan. The 32-year-old already experienced a great send off from the United States men's national team, but the October 10 game didn't end perfectly.

Donovan did bury his disagreements with Jurgen Klinsmann for one night, and he put on a show in East Hartford; however, he was robbed of scoring a goal in his final international game. After the match, Donovan was able to celebrate his long career with the fans.

But you have to think he wants to go out in style. If he scores on the way to lifting his sixth MLS Cup, Donovan would easily be named the Most Valuable Player of the final match of his career. 

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Donovan is not the only star on the Galaxy roster, as Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez also play key roles in the starting lineup. Keane was one of the best players in MLS all season, as he played a role in 33 goals. The Irish forward scored on 19 occasions and had 14 assists in the regular season. 

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 23:  Robbie Keane #7 of the Los Angeles Galaxy drives with the ball against Vancouver FC at StubHub Center on August 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Galaxy are also the better team in the Western Conference final at the moment. With their 5-0 thrashing of Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semifinal second leg, the Galaxy made a statement to the rest of the league that they mean business this postseason. 

Not only are Keane and Donovan firing on all cylinders right now, every other player in the starting 11 is shining as well. The midfield duo of Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas control the pace of the game in the middle of the park, while Gonzalez anchors a strong back four with a few Bruce Arena reclamation projects. 

Robbie Rogers has been one of the best defenders in the league after his transition to left back, while Dan Gargan has revived his career at right back. Add in the skills of A.J. DeLaGarza and you have a stingy back four. 

As if you needed another reason to root for the red-hot Galaxy to make MLS Cup, goalkeeper Jaime Penedo has produced plenty of spectacular saves throughout his first three playoff games. Penedo is the most exciting 'keeper left in the playoffs with Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake eliminated.

Nov 23, 2014; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo (18) makes a save off a shot on goal by Seattle Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey (2) in the first half of the Western Conference Championship game at StubHub Center. Mandatory Cred

The New England Revolution have mirrored the terrific success of the Galaxy this season, but they have earned a ton of praise in a few different ways. Jay Heaps' side stole the headlines in August when they acquired Jermaine Jones.

Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Jones has carried his terrific World Cup form into the tail end of the MLS season. The addition of the midfielder has helped the entire team, but no single player has benefited from the acquisition more than Lee Nguyen. Nguyen has been the best story in the league this season, as he scored 18 regular-season goals in a breakout campaign that earned him a call-up to the United States men's national team a few weeks ago. 

With Jones in the lineup, Nguyen has been able to focus on his attacking abilities. Before Jones came to the Revolution, Nguyen was forced into more of a defensive role on occasion next to Scott Caldwell.

While Jones and Nguyen steal all of the headlines, the Revolution have plenty of other star players on their roster. Young stars Andrew Farrell, Kelyn Rowe and Diego Fagundez are a key part of the team, while veterans Charlie Davies and Teal Bunbury are resurrecting their careers this season. Both attacking players have played key roles in the postseason to put New England one step away from the final. 

Sure, it would be nice to see stars like Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Thierry Henry in the final, but those individuals do not have teams around them like Donovan, Keane, Jones and Nguyen do.

Seattle was the best team during the regular season, but it has scored just one goal in three postseason games. The Sounders have not looked as dominant as the Galaxy in the Western Conference, which leaves a bit of doubt in the minds of some about how they would perform on the league's biggest stage. 

New York has surprised many by advancing to the Eastern Conference final, but as it has shown over the last two games, it is one dumb mistake away from taking itself out of a big game. With that liability hanging over their heads, the Red Bulls may not be the best choice to play in MLS Cup. 

And if we forget all of the names and feel-good stories for a second and focus on the soccer itself, LA and New England are playing the best when it matters the most. 

Both teams don't just flash moments of brilliance; they are strong for each second of the 90 minutes. The potential showdown between the Galaxy and the Revolution would provide us with a ton of terrific matchups across the pitch.

The biggest marquee battle would come in the middle of the park with Jones and Nguyen squaring off against Juninho and Sarvas. How Donovan and Keane deal with 2013 Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves is also an intriguing individual showdown. 

Jun 24, 2014; Cary, NC, USA;  Los Angeles Galaxy forward Robbie Keane (7) and forward Landon Donovan (10) during the second half of the US Open Cup fifth round at WakeMed Soccer Park. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

If that isn't enough for you, the battle of New England's speedy young wingers against LA's smart veteran full-backs is the best potential wing contest left between the remaining four sides in the playoffs. 

Simply put, LA and New England are the two best teams left in the MLS Cup playoffs. Having them play each other for a trophy would be the best-case scenario for everyone who tunes into the final. 

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

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