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MLS Cup Final 2014: TV Schedule and Predictions for Galaxy vs. Revolution

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2014

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2014, file photo, Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan celebrates scoring a goal against Real Salt Lake during the second half of an MLS soccer Western Conference playoff series game, in Carson, Calif. Although Donovan ends his soccer career in the MLS Cup on Sunday, the LA Galaxy have resisted the notion they're trying to win a title as a parting gift for the greatest player in U.S. history. They've got plenty of motivation against the New England Revolution even without honoring Donovan.  (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)
Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Galaxy will be at the center of the American soccer universe on Sunday, as perhaps the most iconic player in U.S. soccer plays out his swan song in the 2014 MLS Cup final.

Landon Donovan—the all-time leading scorer in the history of both MLS and the U.S. national team—will walk out onto the pitch at StubHub Center in Los Angeles for the last time as a player. 

Having already played his last game for the Stars and Stripes, the MLS Cup final serves as an opportunity for the player whose career is most associated with the growth of soccer in the United States to go out on top with another MLS championship.

Standing in his way are the New England Revolution, an athletic, hardworking team spearheaded by insatiable midfielder Jermaine Jones—a fixture on the U.S. national team—and Lee Nguyen, an attacking midfielder wrapping up a career year with his club. 

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 18:  Lee Nguyen #24 of the New England Revolution plays a ball in the second half against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on May 18, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Revolution clinched a berth in the final with a 4-3 aggregate win over Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls. It is their first trip to the Cup final since 2007.

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The Galaxy defeated the Supporters Shield-winning Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference finals on away goals (2-2 aggregate). It's the Galaxy's fourth trip to the league championship in the last six years.

Here is the television schedule and game info for the MLS Cup final, followed by some predictions for the contest.

2014 MLS Cup Final Info

Date: Sunday, Dec. 7

Time (ET): 3 p.m.

Location: StubHub Center, Carson, California

TV: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Match Predictions

Robbie Keane Will Directly Contribute to a Goal

Nick Ut/Associated Press

All eyes will be on Donovan, but it's the man up front who could very well have the biggest impact on the game. Keane, the indomitable Irishman, won the league's MVP award by posting 19 goals and 14 assists in 29 appearances. He credited his excellent play this season to his passion for the game.

"For me, I wake up every morning looking forward to practice. I wake up every Saturday and Sunday desperate and can't wait to play the game," said Keane, via the Irish Independent's Daniel McDonnell.

"It's not about the money. I don't care about the money. For me, it's about playing. I'd play for free."

ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas had this to say about his impact as a designated player:

Alexi Lalas @AlexiLalas

Robbie Keane named 2014 @MLS MVP. 100% agree. He’s also arguably the best DP ever signed (on-field impact.)

He's the focal point of the attack, combining well with the likes of Donovan, Marcelo Savas and Gyasi Zardes, and he is a constant source of energy for his team. 

Keane is no stranger to big moments, having played for the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and captaining the Irish national team. Look for him, not Donovan, to notch either a goal or an assist in this contest.

Jones Will Play Well—and Get Carded

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 29:  Jermaine Jones #13 of New England Revolution defends against Ambroise Oyongo #3 of New York Red Bulls in the second half during Leg 2 of the MLS Eastern Conference game at Gillette Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Foxboro, Massa
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Jones has had a huge impact on the Revolution. His experience, strength and two-way ability have transformed this team. In 14 appearances with New England, he's notched three goals, four assists and four yellow cards.

He's also averaging 2.3 tackles per game and 1.7 interceptions, per WhoScored.com. His experiments at center back with the U.S. national team will have sharpened his defensive instincts, so look for him to be disruptive early on.

He doesn't have a bad track record for discipline since joining the Revs in August, but Jones has earned a reputation for picking up cards with the U.S. national team—although ESPN's Paul Carr noted he turned that trend around recently:

Paul Carr @PaulCarrTM

Jermaine Jones only has two yellow cards in his last 14 #USMNT games. Really.

Jones is a confident tackler, but look for him to get into trouble trying to contain the movement of Zardes, Keane and the rest, especially with all the adrenaline coursing through his veins due to the nature of the contest. A yellow card will dampen his impact on the defensive end and allow the Galaxy to create more scoring opportunities.

Galaxy Will Win the Cup

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

The Galaxy and coach Bruce Arena have been in these big games before, and the esteemed head coach's strategies should work well against a team that runs through the midfield. MLSSoccer.com's Matthew Doyle explains what most opposing team's attacks are reduced to against Los Angeles:

Depending upon who's closest to the play and the coach's overall mandate – 'force a bad, hopeful pass toward Omar' is the usual method these days, though occasionally we'll see 'Marcelo, be the second man in and win the ball at the stripe' – the rest of the team's movement unfolds naturally.

Indeed, center back Omar Gonzales is more than capable of stifling the Revolution's fluid offense, while Savas does an excellent job of tracking back from his midfield spot.

Jones and Nguyen are well supported by the likes of Teal Bunbury and Charlie Davies—who notched a brace in the Revs' second-leg match against the Red Bulls—in attack, but the Galaxy should be able to create more chances.

Working Donovan and Robbie Rogers down the flanks would be a wise strategy for Arena should Jones break up play in midfield, but expect second-year full-back Andrew Farrell to make life difficult for them.

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

"Farrell's been excellent since day one. I really enjoy how much he competes. That's what gets lost in it. He's a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of guy. He loves training, he loves practices, he loves games and you love seeing that from a player," said Revs head coach Jay Heaps, via Goal.com's Ives Galarcep.

The Revolution can't always count on a wonder strike from Nguyen, but they should be able to get on the scoresheet in this one. However, the Galaxy will create more chances and get the necessary goals, giving Donovan a fairytale ending to his career.

Prediction: Galaxy 2-1 Revolution

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