Will there be a new all-time MLS leading goal scorer in the 2018 campaign?

The excitement is ramping up as the 2018 Major League Soccer season is just five days away. Clubs have been busy and it looks set to be one of the most competitive seasons ever given the influx of quality players into the league. However, one of the veterans could become the new all-time MLS leading goal scorer if stats are anything to go by.

That man is Chris Wondolowski. The San Jose Earthquakes forward is on an impressive 134 goals in 293 MLS games. The current record holder, Landon Donovan, sits top of the pile on 145, meaning Wondo needs just 12 goals to break the record.

Wondo’s form over the last five seasons suggests he is on course to net the 11 goals needed to equal the record. Age hasn’t yet been an issue for him either, despite celebrating his 35 birthday in the offseason, his form has been extremely consistent since turning 30 in 2013.

MLS leading goal scorer: Can Wondo break the record?

He has averaged 13.2 goals across his last five seasons. Wondo has not scored less than 11 goals in a season since 2009. He didn’t become a regular scorer until the 2010 season so the stats make for positive reading.

While Wondolowski won’t be playing for just personal accolades, he will surely have an eye on the record and will hope he can hit the ground running when MLS kicks off in less than a week.

Will Wondo break the all-time MLS leading goal scorer record this season?

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Getting Stuck In: Should they stay or should they go?

The Getting Stuck In column delves into some of the more intriguing aspects in US Soccer and MLS, shining a light on the stories regarding the league’s teams and its most-loved characters. This week Dave Lewis looks into whether American players should strive to play in Europe or keep their feet grounded on home soil…

When Jurgen Klinsmann claimed that he wanted American players to push themselves to play at the highest level, he intentionally took a jab at MLS. Actually, it was more like a slap. The American soccer landscape shook. Just this week, Klinsmann’s second in command Andi Herzog was quoted as saying: “Our goal is to get as many players to Europe as possible.”

How could Klinsy dismiss MLS this way? I mean, this is his adopted country where he gets his tan and laid back SoCal vibe. And with so many MLS players on his January roster (20), why alienate them? How does that help his cause?

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It’s no secret Europe is the highest level when it comes to soccer, with Champions League football being the toughest competition out there. And Helen Keller could see that MLS is nowhere near the level of Europe in general. That being said, the American player has always faced a dilemma: ‘Do I stay in the States and play college, get drafted by an MLS team and maybe get a shot in Europe later, or do I try and ply my trade in Europe right away (given the chance)?’

So many players have made the wrong choice. They either went too early or too late to Europe. Or they never go at all, leaving US fans wondering, what if.

Landon Donovan, arguably America’s finest footballer, did go to Europe but was all over the map – literally. His journey is the best example of what American footballers face; chaos and confusion.  He was brave and bold by going over to Germany as a teenager, playing with Bayer Leverkusen. Most players would recognize this as a dream – the Bundesliga, a big club, living in Germany – But he just never adjusted to the German culture. Donovan was just homesick (or maybe a victim of an unwritten anti-US bias). He was subsequently loaned to San Jose in MLS. When given another chance with Leverkusen years later, he lasted just seven games before getting homesick again.

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Many US fans dubbed Donovan a bust in Europe despite having won two MLS Cups before the age of 23. It’s obvious LD went too young. But when Bayern Munich and his former Cal pal and Bayern manager Jurgen Klinsmann called in his late twenties, well, we all thought this was it. LD will do work for the Bavarian giants. But he worked for only six miserable games on loan. He would go on to have two incredible loan spells with Everton near the end of his career, that included winning a player of the month honour. His performances would leave me and my buddy Eric glued to the television going bananas with pride over how he looked like a legit Premier League player. But the verdict on LD’s career has to be MLS rich, European poor.

Players are plucked at different points from MLS rosters with varying degrees of success. Clint Dempsey (Revs) was young. Brian McBride (Crew) was old. And Carlos Bocanegra (Fire) was somewhere in between. They all are legends with Fulham so their timing was right. But the timing for players like Jozy Altidore was probably all wrong.

Jozy did well with the Red Bulls (37 games and 15 goals) and caught Villarreal’s attention while still a teenager. He was raw, but again Helen Keller could have seen he had talent. After a few loan spells he went to Hull and laid an egg: 1 goal in 28 appearances. Then, after crushing the Dutch League (my grandmother could score in that league and she has no left foot), he went to Sunderland and laid an even bigger egg: 1 goal in 42. As a result, most would label him a European catastrophe.

So Jozy went back to MLS where maybe he belonged all along. Some think Jozy got a fair chance in Europe. But some would say the deck was stacked against him from the start. Hull and Sunderland were bottom-dwelling teams clawing their way to stay up. Most managers don’t trust unknown commodities like US players to save their clubs and their jobs.

Fair? Not really. US players may lack technical skills and flair but they work hard, are extremely fit and are total professionals. That’s why when ex-Sounder DeAndre Yedlin got subbed after 18 minutes for Sunderland in December I thought: “Man, he sure wasn’t ready for England, and he sure didn’t deserve that.”

So now, with the January transfer window open, I thought I would look at three US players linked with European moves and evaluate whether they should stay in MLS or listen to Klinsy.

Matt Miazga – Age 20 – Central Defender – New York Red Bulls

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Rumors: The Polish-American (hasn’t decided which national team to play for) was linked in the fall to Chelsea, Leicester, Stoke and Swansea.

What he does well: Strong in the air, exceptional pace for his size and defends set pieces like a warrior.

What he needs to work on: Ball at his feet, less fouling and temper.

Stay or go?: Will he sit on a bench in Europe if he goes? If he goes to the Prem, most likely. Germany? Less likely. His game needs to develop and getting matches under his belt in MLS (only 34 appearances so far) defending against the likes of Drogba, Villa, Kamara, Giovinco and Keane can’t hurt. STAY (for now)!

 

Jordan Morris – Age 21 – Forward – Unattached

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Rumors: Is training with Bundesliga side Werder Bremen this month but could sign with his hometown club, Seattle Sounders, who own his MLS rights.

What he does well: Bullish approach to the game like a young Wayne Rooney; physically gifted with good speed.

What he needs to work on: Defense, pro experience

Stay or go?: This is a strange case. Usually a player like Morris, who just finished his junior year at Stanford, would go to MLS. But he already has a goal and seven caps for the national team, which is unheard of for a college player. He wants to play in Europe. His tenacity and high IQ would work well in Germany. GO!

 

Gyasi Zardes – Age 24 – Forward/winger – LA Galaxy

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Rumors: The US international has been linked to Reading in the Championship and Belgian side Gent, while more recently there was an offer from an unnamed Championship side for $3 million.

What he does well: Big, strong and powerful, runs well down the flanks, links well with midfielders.

What he needs to work on: Passing.

Stay or go?: In 2014 he was a goal-scoring machine for the Galaxy. Struggled a bit in 2015. But he had a breakout year with the national team as Klinsmann used him as a winger. This is a tough call. Is the Championship that much better than MLS (a debate for another day)? Will he develop playing in a smaller league like in Belgium? He is 24, making decent money and playing for an MLS glamour club. STAY!

Analysis: Are LA Galaxy in trouble after worst start for six years?

LA Galaxy became Major League Soccer’s most successful club when they lifted a record fifth MLS Cup title back in December in what was their third championship win in four years, but is their dominance of MLS under question just four months later?

A rough start to the 2015 season has seen Bruce Arena‘s side make their worst start for six years, in terms of the number of points on the board after five games, as they have recorded just one win so far and that was on opening night at home to Chicago Fire.

The Galaxy have lost back-to-back games for the first time since June 2013 and have failed to find the net in consecutive regular season games for the first time since May 2012, so something is clearly not right.

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MLS is getting more competitive by the year and the 2015 season is already proving to be the most competitive yet, as many expected.

The Western Conference is the strongest it’s ever been and the Galaxy need to focus on trying to beat their conference rivals before they can begin to think about retaining their MLS Cup title.

They have not won any of their three meetings with Western Conference opposition so far this season and need to turn things around quickly.

Table: LA Galaxy statistics after five games since 2009 season

Table: LA Galaxy statistics after five games since 2009 season

The table above shows how bad a start they have made compared to previous seasons. It is only five games, so there is a lot to be played, but making a poor start is never a good thing.

Arena has watched his side score the fewest number of goals through their opening five games in four years and Landon Donovan‘s absence looks to be playing a part in the slow start as the Galaxy have had to start a season without the US legend for the first time since 2004.

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Robbie Keane has won the club’s MVP award for the past three seasons but hasn’t started as well as he would have liked, and as captain the Irishman needs to rally his teammates.

Things don’t get any easier for the reigning champions as they host the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night, though Seattle haven’t started as well as they would have liked either, making this a seriously important clash at this early stage of the campaign.

Seattle and LA dominated MLS last year and were the two sides battling at the top of both the Western Conference and the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings for much of the 2014 season.

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Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Dallas are doing that at this early stage of the 2015 campaign though, and the Galaxy must start turning things around if they are to stand a chance of winning a sixth MLS Cup.

Steven Gerrard’s arrival in the summer should improve the team dramatically and making the playoffs will ensure they have a chance of retaining their crown, so it’s far too early to reach for the panic button.

Traditionally, it takes a few games for the Galaxy to get going (they only won two of their first eight last year on their way to the championship), though supporters will want to stop the rot with a victory against Seattle on Sunday to prevent any panic from setting in as teams around them are already stretching ahead.

Are the LA Galaxy in trouble? What is going wrong for them early on this year?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: LA Galaxy

As the new season draws ever closer we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the LA Galaxy will be looking to achieve this year.

LA Galaxy head into the 2015 season off the back of one of the most memorable campaigns in the history of the club. They won a record fifth MLS Cup title and said goodbye to the legendary Landon Donovan following his retirement. The Galaxy must ensure that Donovan’s retirement doesn’t have a negative impact on their performances on the pitch. Deciding how they will set-up in order to get the best out of the team once new signing Steven Gerrard joins in July will be crucial. The aim for 2015 will be to achieve at least the same again in terms of honours.

Last season’s finish: Western Conference position: 2nd – P34 – W17 – D10 – L7

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What needs to change this year?

It’s not so much a case of what needs to change for LA Galaxy, but more how they can set about continuing from where they left off.  The 2014 season saw them lose just seven regular season games – the least out of any MLS team. Three of those defeats came in the opening eight fixtures, so a better start this time around will ensure they can be the early pacesetters.  The only disappointment from last year will be that they failed to win the Supporters’ Shield, so that will be one of their targets for 2015.

Key changes to the squad:

Ins: Steven Gerrard – Midfielder (Designated Player)

Outs: Landon Donovan – Midfielder/Forward, Marcelo Sarvas – Midfielder, Rob Friend – Forward

Key player: Robbie KeaneForward

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Robbie Keane‘s contribution throughout the 2014 season was astonishing. He is the captain, a leader of men and possesses bags of experience. He will have achieved hero status after his performance last year, including the famous MLS Cup Final winning goal. He will need to continue to take responsibility and guide his team along the way.

One to watch: Gyasi ZardesForward

The 23-year-old is an exciting prospect. Gyasi Zardes was very much the unsung hero last season, due to the attention given to Landon Donovan’s farewell season and Robbie Keane’s superb efforts. He scored 16 goals in the regular season campaign and is growing in quality with every second he spends on the pitch. The recent inclusion in the USMNT will only give him further confidence to act as a springboard for 2015.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 1st

Competition is going to be even higher in the Western Conference this season, but LA Galaxy still boast one of the strongest squads in Major League Soccer. They’re certainly one of the strong favourites for the Supporters’ Shield and will also expect to retain their MLS Cup title.

How will LA Galaxy fare in 2015?

Brad Davis now the longest-serving player with one club in MLS

Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis is now the longest-serving player to be with one Major League Soccer club as he enters his 10th season with the Dynamo.

Chicago Fire defender Gonzalo Segares announced his retirement on Monday, putting an end to a 10-year career, and so Davis is now the longest-serving player in the league to have been with one club.

Houston teammate Corey Ashe is not far behind Davis as the left-back has been with the Dynamo for eight years, while Real Salt Lake trio Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales have all been together in RSL for eight years too.

Longest-serving players with one club in MLS

List of active MLS players with longest tenures with one club (via Houston Dynamo) 

Davis is currently tied for fourth with Preki (112) for all-time MLS assists and is only two behind Colombian legend Carlos Valderrama (114).

The USMNT playmaker, who was a part of the 2014 World Cup squad, will expect to climb to at least third on the all-time assist list this season but he is still 24 behind Landon Donovan, who leads Major League Soccer for assists with 136.

Davis will play alongside Mexican striker Erick Torres when he joins up with the squad later this year and he will expect to pick up plenty of assists while playing with the former Chivas USA star.

The Houston Dynamo open up their 2015 season against the Columbus Crew on Saturday, March 7th and the club will hope to start life under new coach Owen Coyle with victory.

How important is Brad Davis for the Houston Dynamo?

Three potential signings to replace Landon Donovan at LA Galaxy

With the recent retirement of Landon Donovan, the LA Galaxy has a huge hole to fill in their squad and an unoccupied designated player slot too. Though replacing the US soccer legend is no easy task.

Donovan leaves behind a great legacy with the Galaxy having recently lead them to his fourth MLS Cup title with the franchise and his sixth overall – the most titles won by any player.

However, it remains to be seen how LA will look to replace him. An attacking option is set to be added to the squad before the start of the new MLS season in March. Though they may wait until the summer if the right name is available then.

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Much of the post-Donovan chat has been on the permanent move to MLS for Erick Torres, but he has gone back to parent club Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico to help with their ongoing relegation struggle.

Bruce Arena may have to adjust his formation due to the loss of Donovan, which could expand the potential list of suitors.

His current 4-4-2 formation has seemed to work for some time now, but the loss of Donavan leaves a huge hole in the Galaxy squad.

Here are three potential replacements:

Darren Bent (Striker) – Aston Villa (England)

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England international striker Darren Bent has been somewhat of a forgotten man since Paul Lambert took over the reigns at Villa. And so Bent could do with a new challenge after seeing his starting place handed to Belgium front man Christian Benteke.

He could be a great partner for MLS MVP Robbie Keane, having previously played at Tottenham Hotspur as well as at Villa together. But this would mean re-positioning Gyasi Zardes from the Galaxy attack to accommodate Bent.

Ronaldinho (Attacking Midfielder) – Querétaro F.C. (Mexico)

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The World Cup winning Brazilian needs no introduction and a move to MLS giants LA Galaxy could be the swansong he deserves.

Ronaldinho can operate on either flank, through the middle or up front so he would be a suitable replacement for Donovan in terms of versatility. However, he doesn’t posses the defensive qualities of Donovan and so Zardes could be forced out wide to accommodate Ronaldinho’s arrival too.

Andrea Pirlo (Midfielder) – Juventus (Italy)

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Pass-master Pirlo is a World Cup winner like Ronaldinho and would further strengthen the Galaxy midfield. Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho could benefit by having Pirlo just in behind them to give them more freedom to attack.

He’s been linked with a move recently and the potential signing of Pirlo could would allow Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes to continue their lethal strike partnership, while giving them a player who can provide service from deeper.

Who do you think LA Galaxy will replace Landon Donovan with?

Will LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane be as prolific next campaign?

Major League Soccer MVP and MLS Cup winner Robbie Keane had a wonderful season, capped off by scoring the winning goal in the final but he has a lot to do for the upcoming season to maintain his brilliant form.

The loss of the now-retired Landon Donovan will certainly have an impact on Keane’s performances, because as we know teams feared playing against the deadly duo but they can now pay more attention to Keane.

The 34-year-old forward will need to continue his successful partnership with the impressive Gyasi Zardes, who only netted three less than the Irishman last term.

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It will be interesting to see who the Galaxy bring in as a replacement for Donovan, with some reports suggesting Ronaldinho could be on his way to MLS.

With many players we know age is just a number, Keane will turn 35 during the next season but given his hunger and desire for the game it shouldn’t impact his performances at all.

He showed throughout last season that he still has that killer instinct in front of goal – a trait that he will never lose. With that in mind, teams will be fearing him possibly even more so in the upcoming season due to confidence being as high as ever.

We can expect Keane to be heading someway towards his 20-goal tally of this season again next term and unless any other outside factors hinder him such as injuries he should have no problem reaching his targets.

His wealth of experience will again help him no end, and the displays we saw from Keane last season were as good as when he was at his best with Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.

The Galaxy will be going into the new season full of confidence and will believe they can beat anybody despite the loss of Donovan, and they’ll want to push on and continue making history with another MLS Cup title in 2015.

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The departure of Donovan could be a blessing in disguise for Keane as the Galaxy fans will be looking to him as their standalone cult hero, and we know that fans in MLS certainly get behind their players.

He is one of the most experienced players in MLS and will go down in the same category as Thierry Henry when he retires too.

We excitedly await the new campaign and are looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

Will Robbie Keane impress again next season in MLS?

2014 MLS Season Review: LA Galaxy

Western Conference Final Position: 2nd

Western Conference Playoffs: Winners

MLS Cup Winners 2014

Review

Putting it simply, 2014 has been an excellent season for LA Galaxy. They have won the MLS Cup, but not just that, they have made history by winning a record fifth title and now become the most successful club in the history of the competition. It has made for a fairytale ending for club legend Landon Donovan who has now retired.

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Best Moment

Many will look to Robbie Keane‘s 111th minute winner in the MLS Cup Final as the clear front-runner for the greatest moment of 2014 for LA Galaxy, and rightly so. However, without Juninho‘s strike in the second-leg of the Western Conference championship tie away at Seattle Sounders, they would never have had the opportunity to lift the title.

Worst Moment

The one low point of the season will be the 2-0 defeat at Seattle Sounders in the last game of the regular season which saw their Western Conference rivals win the Supporters’ Shield.

Player of the Year

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Robbie Keane was the Major League Soccer MVP and although the LA Galaxy team was filled with great performers in 2014 such as Landon Donovan, Gyasi Zardes and Marcelo Sarvas – to name just a few – he gets the nod for player of the year. His winning goal in the MLS Cup Final against New England Revolution was a priceless moment that only emphasised his importance to this Galaxy side.

Biggest Win

LA Galaxy 6-0 Colorado Rapids (September 6 2014)

Biggest Defeat

Columbus Crew 4-1 LA Galaxy (August 16 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

First and foremost, the Galaxy will need to try and find a suitable replacement for Landon Donovan. Finding a player to replace the aura that Donovan leaves behind is near impossible, but they will need to look for someone who possesses a similar level of ability – not an easy task.

Another pointer would be to try and hit the ground running in 2015. They came out of the traps slowly at the beginning of the 2014 campaign, picking up just two wins from their first eight games, which handed the initiative to their rivals immediately. They need to set the benchmark early on next time around.

Dream end for Landon Donovan as LA Galaxy beat New England revolution in MLS Cup Final

LA Galaxy won their fifth MLS Cup title with a 2-1 win after extra-time against New England Revolution in Landon Donovan‘s final game.

It was a tense game, full of drama throughout but Robbie Keane‘s extra-time goal was enough to win a record fifth MLS Cup trophy for the Galaxy.

Gyasi Zardes gave the hosts the lead soon after halftime, but New England fought back and Chris Tierney‘s goal sent the game into a further 30 minutes.

The result means New England have lost to the Galaxy in the final three times now – all of those in extra-time, and Donovan claimed his sixth title in his final game before retirement.

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“A lot of credit to New England. In a lot of ways they played better than we did today. They were terrific,” the 32-year-old told ESPN after the game.

“There are games you play when you’re not at your best and we weren’t at our best today. But we stayed in it and got there in the end.”

Donovan will forever be remembered as a legend for US soccer and he has seen Major League Soccer come so far during his 13 years in the league.

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“This is incredible,” he said. “It’s amazing when you look around. All the teams have grown, and there is lots of excitement around it [for next year]. This is just the end of the playing part for me. I’ll still be around.”

Robbie Keane was named as the MVP of the final, adding to his MLS MVP award that he picked up earlier this week and Donovan will miss playing with the prolific Irish forward.

“I’m gonna miss Robbie Keane. In these games it takes a special play and there’s no one better at making special plays than Keane.”

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He has changed the game of soccer for the better and Landon Donovan will now hope to continue the league’s development away from the field.

LA Galaxy are now the most successful side in Major League Soccer. But the New England Revolution will come back stronger in 2015, in what promises to be a thrilling season.

5 reasons why you have to watch the 2014 MLS Cup Final

It’s almost here. The 2014 MLS Cup Final between LA Galaxy and New England Revolution is set to kickoff on Sunday night at 20:00pm in the UK and you don’t want to miss it.

Don’t miss: MLS Cup Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs New England Revolution

Avid followers of Major League Soccer won’t need persuading as this is going to be big. But for those less familiar with MLS, here are five reasons why you have to watch this one:

1. Landon Donovan is looking to end his career by lifting his sixth MLS Cup

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This is the finale for LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan. The US Soccer legend has enjoyed an incredible career and could end it by lifting his sixth MLS Cup and fourth with the Galaxy in his final game before retirement. All eyes will be on Donovan and he will need to handle the pressure to help LA across the line in front of their own fans.

2. Lee Nguyen is looking to end a sensational year on a high

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Without Lee Nguyen, New England Revolution would not be preparing to play in this game. The playmaker has been incredible all year, scoring 20 goals in 36 appearances so far and will want to end a memorable campaign by lifting the Revolution’s first ever MLS Cup trophy.

3. LA Galaxy have not lost at home since the opening day of the season in March

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The Galaxy’s last home loss was nine months ago on March 9 in a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake. They have been incredible at StubHub Center and have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven games there. The fact that the final will be played on home soil gives the Galaxy a major advantage but the Revs aren’t afraid of expressing themselves on the road. New England have netted 13 goals in their last five away from home and have won four of those games.

4. There have been at least three goals in eight of New England’s last nine games

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The Revs like scoring – a lot. But they are also vulnerable at the back and that’s why their games usually deliver plenty of entertainment. There have been 17 goals in their four playoff games so far and they should go to Los Angeles looking to play their usual free-flowing football. There were six goals in the regular season meeting between these two at StubHub Center as the Galaxy won 5-1 and we could be set for a goalscoring feast on Sunday night too.

5. Major League Soccer is only getting better

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This has been the best MLS season to date in terms of playing quality across the league and every team that made the playoffs had a genuine case for a place in this season’s MLS Cup Final. But it’s LA Galaxy and New England Revolution who have earned the chance to lift the 2014 title. The league is improving year on year and the next campaign will see 20 teams playing, as New York City FC and Orlando City SC are the latest expansion franchises to get involved. If you don’t follow MLS already, you should be, and Sunday’s final will show you why.

Be sure to check out the MLSGB TV Show as the team preview the big game: