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?

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The reasons why 2014 was the most entertaining MLS season for nine years

Fans of the game don’t need to be told how entertaining the most recent Major League Soccer campaign was in terms of the tension, adrenaline, jubilation and despair that it created.

Having been through the emotional roller coaster of supporting your club through a season, most will now be at peace with how their team performed in 2014 – whether they are pleased or disappointed is another question entirely.

In terms of entertainment value, MLS has come up trumps once again as the 2014 season saw 924 goals hitting the back of the net – the most ever scored in a regular season.

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Since 2012, MLS has seen more matches being played over the course of the season due to more teams being in the league and format adjustments, so it would be easy to say that the only reason we’ve seen the most goals is because there are more games.

While that is true, it’s important to bear in mind that 2014 managed to produce the highest average goals-per-game ratio since 2005 and that the standard of play in the league is now far higher than nine years ago.

MLS, year by year:

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A closer look at the numbers will also tell you that the 2014 season saw the highest average attendance in the history of Major League Soccer.

The average attendance is up by 554 on last season and is 341 higher than the previous record of 18,807 that we saw in 2012.

With New York City and Orlando City joining in 2015, it’s clear for all to see the growth of MLS and if ever there was proof needed that the league was on the rise, then the attendance figures for this year just about confirm that fact.

Is Major League Soccer becoming one of the biggest leagues in the world?

How will New York Red Bulls cope with life after Thierry Henry?

Losing a player of Thierry Henry‘s quality and presence is never an ideal situation, but it’s the one that New York Red Bulls are now currently faced with.

Henry scored 10 goals in 2014, but perhaps more importantly, he made 15 assists over the course of the regular season and the MLS playoffs combined.

A large proportion of the credit for the Red Bulls success last season will have been given to Bradley Wright-Phillips for his scintillating goalscoring form, but it will be interesting to see how he manages now that his key creator is no longer around.

Thierry Henry played the role of provider for nine of the goals that Wright-Phillips scored last season which accounts for just under one third of his overall combined total of 31.

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Upon equalling the record for most goals in one MLS regular season, Bradley Wright-Phillips has since been rewarded with a designated player contract.

And with no clarification over Tim Cahill’s future as yet, there may still be two DP slots available should he decide to move on to pastures new.

It will then be down to whether or not the Red Bulls choose to fill the spaces, but it certainly allows them the option to bring in world-class talent in an attempt to replace the legendary Frenchman.

The assumption would be that New York are currently on the hunt for an attacking player to partner BWP in 2015 as Henry has played such a crucial role for the last four years, so that void will certainly need to be filled.

Can New York Red Bulls cope with life after Thierry Henry?

Playoff Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs New England Revolution

The Eastern Conference Final kicks off on Sunday night with New England Revolution travelling to Red Bull Arena to take on the New York Red Bulls in the first-leg.

The Revolution have never won at Red Bull Arena and lost twice to New York during the regular season.

But the Revs are expected to come into the game at full strength seeing as Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen came home early from the USMNT’s mini-UK tour after facing Colombia last Friday.

The Red Bulls should be much of the same with their illustrious front three of Lloyd Sam, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry firing on all cylinders. While Peguy Luyindula will look to continue his fine run of form in the playmaking role.

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New York have made Red Bull Arena a bit of a fortress of late, having won nine out of their last ten at home. And have won back-to-back playoff games at home too as the days of home playoff losses could be over. New England will need to perform as they have been in recent weeks to change that.

New York Red Bulls Home Form: Played 19 – Won 12 – Drawn 4 – Lost 3

However, the Revs come into the game unbeaten in their last seven. And with the emergence of Charlie Davies and his recent proficiency, they haven’t had to rely on the outstanding Lee Nguyen as much.

Don’t Miss: Stats: Thierry Henry vs Lee Nguyen – Which playmaker will make the difference on Sunday?

The MVP candidate has stayed sharp from his trip to the UK with the National team and will look to be the difference-maker once more.

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New York are the favorites here though, seeing as their home form has been superb. And they will want to lay down a marker for the second-leg while remaining tight at the back to try and ensure away goals don’t become a deciding factor.

Red Bull Arena is expected to be at full capacity as the club revealed they had sold out the stadium ahead of the first-leg this Sunday.

New England’s Away Form: Played 18 – Won 7 – Drawn 2 – Lost 9

The Revs have netted a staggering 11 goals in their last four away games and with Lee Nguyen in the form of his life, it would take a brave man to back against them getting at least one in New York.

This should be a cracker!

Key Player: Lee Nguyen – ‘MVLee’ scored 18 goals in the regular season and is integral to any MLS Cup hopes the Revs have. Classy player, always expect the unexpected.

Key Stat: New York have not lost to New England in 11 home games. The Revolution’s last win against the Red Bulls in MLS was in July 2012.

Prediction: New York Red Bulls 2 – 1 New England Revolution

The 2014 MLS Cup guarantees to make history

The team that now goes on to win the 2014 MLS Cup will be making new history in some way or another which only adds to the excitement and intensity we’re all expecting.

Seattle Sounders have had a fantastic season irrelevant of the eventual outcome of their MLS Cup campaign as they scooped the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup double.

However, should they manage to seal MLS Cup glory, they will become the first ever team to complete the treble and thereby print their name in the record books, which would be a remarkable achievement and truly cement the fact that they have been the best team this season.

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[Seattle Sounders enjoyed success in this year’s U.S. Open Cup]

LA Galaxy narrowly missed out on the Supporters’ Shield title when they lost 2-0 to Seattle Sounders, but they can focus all their attention on trying to bring home the MLS Cup.

If they go on to win it, they will become the most successful team in the history of the competition with five titles – they are currently tied on four with DC United.

Meanwhile, both New England Revolution and the New York Red Bulls are hunting down their first ever title in this competition.

The Revs are probably the unluckiest team in MLS Cup history having been to four finals and finished on the losing end on every occasion, twice losing 1-0 after extra-time and once losing on penalties.

Title winners since 1996:

MLS HistoryWhatever happens, it promises to be entertaining and will also set new history for one of the clubs.

Who do you think will win the 2014 MLS Cup?

2014 MLS Season Review: DC United

Eastern Conference final position: 1st

Eastern Conference playoffs: Semi-Final

Best Moment

3-0 win against the reigning MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park in August, in which they were 3-0 up at halftime.

Worst Moment

Easily the recent 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in their Eastern Conference semi-final first-leg. DC failed to score and left themselves with just a little too much to do against their rivals.

Player of the Year

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Bill Hamid – it was tough to decide between him and Fabian Espindola. However, the DC keeper has more than earned this title. Superb all season and he looks set for a bright future with DC and the USMNT.

Biggest Win

DC United 4-1 FC Dallas (April 26 2014)

Biggest Defeat

LA Galaxy 4-1 DC United (August 28 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

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DC United‘s remarkable improvement from the 2013 season saw them cruise into the playoffs and that deserves great credit. They will expect to be challenging at the top of the Eastern Conference once again next season but need to play much the same style. They must follow up a solid season defensively and will look to add a few more goals to their tally. Eddie Johnson must start firing (if he remains in DC) if they are to challenge for the MLS Cup.

Clint Dempsey says Seattle Sounders are “feeling good” ahead of LA Galaxy clash

Following their Western Conference playoff semi-final victory over FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey has been looking ahead to the conference final against LA Galaxy in a fortnight.

“We believe in ourselves – to win the Supporters’ Shield we had to play two games against them (LA Galaxy) and get the right result, so we’re a team that’s done well this season in terms of silverware.

“We have that confidence moving forward and we feel good,” he said to the Seattle Sounders YouTube channel.

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Despite the high level of confidence in the team, Dempsey is still cautious of the quality that the Galaxy possess.

“They’re a good team with a lot of quality – that’s the reason why they’re still in the playoffs.

“We have to figure out a way to manage these games in the right way because you don’t want to leave yourselves with a mountain to climb come the second game.

“To be the best you’ve got to play against the best and we’ve got to stay hungry for more.”

Dempsey’s partnership with Obafemi Martins has been inspirational to the Sounders this season and is one of the main reasons that they’re where they are.

“I love playing with Oba, he’s a world class player, we have a good chemistry, I think you can see that all year, we work well together and create chances for each other.”

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Although Dempsey has been left off the roster for the upcoming USMNT friendlies, he still “wishes them the best” and he’s had a “good conversation with Jurgen (Klinsmann) and looks forward to 2015”.

Every cloud has a silver lining though, as his omission from the squad for this international break should leave him feeling fresh and ready to fire on all cylinders in the next stage of the playoffs.

How crucial is Clint Dempsey to Seattle Sounders?

How costly will Diego Valeri’s injury be for Portland Timbers?

Portland Timbers could begin the 2015 season without key player Diego Valeri after he underwent surgery on his knee yesterday which will potentially see him out of action for five months.

It’s a lay-off that wouldn’t see him feature again until April if he is unable to recover quicker than expected with the new season beginning in March.

The Argentinian midfield maestro has been a revelation for the Timbers once again this season, setting club records in the process.

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His goals tally of 11 is the best in a single season by any Portland player since their competition in Major League Soccer began in 2011.

The previous best record was the 10 goals scored by Valeri himself in last year’s campaign (2013) – a number that striker Maximiliano Urruti also notched up this year, assisted by great service from his midfield compatriot.

He was joint second in the league assists table this year, with 14 set-ups (also a new club record) which is the same as Robbie Keane of LA Galaxy – only Landon Donovan made more (19).

The 28-year-old has been the first name on the team sheet for the last two seasons, with consistent performances of the highest standard and has only missed four games.

Diego Valeri in the last two seasons:

Diego Valeri stats

He is the driving force in the Timbers side and he could prove to be a great loss in the early stages of next season.

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Portland will certainly be hoping that he can recover quicker than has been predicted and that he can be back in time for the first game, but it’s looking unlikely.

It all means that they will desperately miss their key man in the opening games of the 2015 campaign and they can only hope that it won’t have a negative impact on their playoff aspirations.

How much will Portland Timbers miss Diego Valeri if he is unable to play for the first month of next season?

2014 MLS Season Review: Colorado Rapids

Western Conference Final Position: 8th

Review

Colorado had a relatively strong start to the regular season, picking up points from sides they may not have expected to and lost only one of their first six. The Rapids enjoyed a few good spells of three games unbeaten and a few back-to-back wins. Their end of season form cost them heavily and gave them no chance of pushing for the playoffs. A run of 14 games without a win, including 12 defeats, turned what was looking like a promising season into one they will want to forget.

Best Moment

The turn around against the Whitecaps in April. With just a little more than ten minutes to go, The Rapids were trailing 1-0 and showed they had the quality and desire to win while staring defeat in the face. Two goals in three minutes from Mari and then to shut out the Whitecaps in the closing stages at their own ground proves that the Rapids do have what it takes to win from a difficult position.

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Worst Moment

The five-goal capitulation against Real Salt Lake in September. After leading 1-0 until the half-hour mark, The Rapids fell apart, conceding two in two minutes, then a further three. It came in the middle of their 14-game winless streak and The Rapids could have taken a huge boost if they had managed anything from this game. But it wasn’t to be and it was one of quite a few drubbings in their tough period.

Player of the Year

Dillon Powers. The 23-year-old is one for the future for The Rapids. He made the second-highest number of appearances and bagged himself five goals. The midfielder could be a player to build the team around for the new season and he is definitely one to watch. He could also start to feature for the USMNT.

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Biggest Win

Colorado Rapids 4-1 Montreal Impact (May 25 2014)

Biggest Defeat

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

What to improve for the 2015 season…

Maintaining a strong start to the new season. If Colorado had managed this for the 2014 term they could have definitely found themselves in with a chance of making the playoffs. Due to their dismal run, they ended up 18 points behind fifth-placed Vancouver Whitecaps and their season could have been so much better. Finding their way out of tough situations is something they definitely need to improve on. With glimpses of it this season, they showed that it’s not an impossible task, and they will hope to come back stronger in 2015.