A long list of subplots for Sunday’s MLS Cup final between New England and Los Angeles


Sunday’s MLS Cup Final has the potential to be an all-timer, if not on the field just for the vast amount of story lines at play between New England and Los Angeles.

Some are obvious, while others lie a little deeper below the surface. Between superstars and international teammates, long-time friends and fierce enemies, Sunday is going to be special for a number of reasons.

[ MLS: Best XI announced… who was snubbed? ]

So, rapid fire, here we go:

Well, duh: Landon Donovan —  He’s arguably the greatest MLS player of all-time, almost certainly the most important American MLS player in history and playing his final game of competitive soccer regardless of what happens on Sunday afternoon. The on-field work of a #LegenD becomes a thing of the past. And it’s going to be special.

One for the thumb… L.A. can be the first team to lay claim to five MLS titles. Pretty self-explanatory statement there.

Chuck’s better luck… Just over five years ago, Charlie Davies was a 23-year-old hotshot making a good impact with a pair of goals in his first eight Ligue 1 matches. Then, a horrific car crash that nearly took his life changed everything. Now he’s the hero of the Eastern Conference final. Can he stamp his name on the title match?

Nguyenner, Nguyenner, champions dinner… Lee Nguyen had completely dropped off the USMNT radar before his “MVLee” season put him all over highlight reels and back in his national team’s colors (that he also wears in New England, but you know what we mean). How about a title?

Out with a title… Robbie Rogers retired from soccer, only to come back as the world’s openly gay top-flight player. ‘Twas a big story. And a title?

Feel better story of the year… Kevin Alston continues to bravely battle leukemia in New England.

Win one (more) in Luca’s memory… AJ DeLaGarza and his family dealt with the horrific loss of their infant son this summer.

From one Cup to another… Jermaine Jones scored one of the most memorable goals in USMNT history during the World Cup match against Portugal, then transferred to MLS where he can make score another big Cup goal for his new club.

Student vs. teacher — Revs goalkeeping legend Matt Reis retired from MLS, and his longtime understudy won the job in training camp. Now Bobby Shuttleworth will look across the field and see his old pal coaching Jaime Penedo and company in Los Angeles. That’s a bit weird.

So much more: All that is without mentioning Robbie Keane, Omar Gonzalez, Kelyn Rowe, Gyasi Zardes, Jay Heaps, Bruce Arena…

Is it Sunday yet?