Preview: LA Galaxy host New England Revolution in 2014 MLS Cup final, Landon Donovan’s final game

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No matter how Sunday’s MLS Cup final (3 pm ET) ends, the tale telling the victorious side’s season-long journey to the top of the Major League Soccer mountain will carry with it more than a hint of Hollywood motion-picture magic.

For the LA Galaxy, the swan song of US national team and MLS legend Landon Donovan is an obvious candidate to make the jump from the field to the big screen. His 15-year professional career says he’s the greatest American player of all-time, now he’s trying to leave the league he stayed home to help build as a champion in his final game as a pro.

For the New England Revolution, the plot is the standard group of misfits and castaways from elsewhere — Lee Nguyen, Charlie Davies and Teal Bunbury, to name a few — who banded together to form the league’s hottest team during the second half of the season after struggling and floundering badly early on. They’re essentially the Cleveland Indians from one of my all-time favorite sports films, Major League.

[ WATCH: Galaxy’s MLS Cup history as four-time winners | Revs’ four losses, without a win ]

When calling the Revolution — losers of just one game since early August — “the hottest team to finish the regular season,” it’s not to say they’ve been far and away better than a Galaxy side with only two league losses in the same timeframe. As the two teams’ form to close out 2014 suggests, Sunday’s final is a matchup much tougher to call than perhaps recent memories coming to mind might suggest when speaking the names ‘Galaxy’ — hosts (and winners) of MLS Cup in 2011 and 2012, aiming to do it all over again — and ‘Revolution’ — a club who’s not been to a final since 2007, when they lost their unprecedented third-straight title game.

GF GA Shots/gm SoG/gm Total passes/gm Key passes/gm Short passes/gm Long passes/gm Shots allowed/gm
Galaxy  69 (1st)  37 (1)  15.7 (1)  5.8 (1)  480.5 (1)  12.7 (1)  357.5 (1)  36.8 (4)  10.2 (1)
Revs  51 (9)  46 (8)  13.9 (5)  5.5 (3)  389.6 (16)  11.0 (2)  262.1 (16)  33.8 (9)  12.9 (10)

Regular-season stats via

Bruce Arena‘s Galaxy advanced to host their third final in four years by knocking off Real Salt Lake, 5-0 on aggregate, in the Western Conference semifinals and the Seattle Sounders, 2-2 on aggregate (1-0 on away goals) in the West’s championship series. Donovan led the way against RSL with a second-leg hat trick en route to the 5-0 home victory at the StubHub Center. Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho, the Galaxy’s Brazilian midfield duo, provided both goals against Seattle with the latter’s tally in the decisive second leg the difference in the series.

Jay Heaps’ Revs dispatched this year’s version of last year’s Revs, the Columbus Crew — an up-and-coming side that plays some attractive soccer but is ultimately full of youth and playoff inexperience — in the Eastern Conference semifinals, 7-3 on aggregate, to host the New York Red Bulls in the East’s championship series. Charlie Davies, scorer of four 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs goals, led the way to MLS Cup with a brace against the Red Bulls, including the series-winner, which came late in last Saturday’s second leg.

[ STAY TUNED: More of PST’s MLS Cup coverage | Follow PST on Twitter ]

Galaxy star players: Robbie Keane — 2014 MLS MVP, 19 goals, 14 assists; Landon Donovan — 10 goals, 19 assists (2014), 144 goals, 136 assists (career, MLS records); Gyasi Zardes — Homegrown Player, 16 goals; Omar Gonzalez — 2014 World Cup starter, 4 career playoff goals, 2012 MLS Cup MVP; Jaime Penedo — starting goalkeeper, 29 starts, 33 goals allowed, 8 shutouts, 70% save% (5th among regular starters

Revolution star players: Lee Nguyen — 2014 MLS MVP second runner-up, 18 goals, 5 assists, 9 game-winning goals (most in MLS), ; Jermaine Jones — 2014 World Cup starter, 11 starts (including playoffs, signed in August), 3 goals, 6 assists; Charlie Davies — 4 goals, 1 assist in 2014 playoffs (4 starts); Teal Bunbury — 2 goals, 2 assists in 2014 playoffs (4 starts); Jose Goncalves — 2013 MLS Defender of the Year, starting defender, captain, 1 goal in 2014 playoffs (4 starts)

Brazilian player Taison banned in Ukraine for response to racism

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) Brazilian player Taison has been banned for one game for his reaction to racist abuse in a Ukrainian league game.

The Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder showed his middle finger to Dynamo Kyiv fans who had abused him with monkey chants and kicked the ball into the stands during a game Nov. 10. Taison was shown a red card.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

The Ukrainian Football Association ordered Taison to serve a one-game ban plus a suspended two-game ban.

Dynamo has been fined 500,000 hryvnyas ($20,000) and ordered to play one game behind closed doors. Another one-game sanction is suspended.

World players’ union FIFPro says “sanctioning a victim of racial abuse is beyond comprehension and it plays into the hands of those who promote this kind of disgraceful behavior.”

More AP soccer: and

Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

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Yes, Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League and, sure, both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini are in managerial hot seats, but is there any match more intriguing than Man City and Chelsea squaring off with the knowledge that a bad outcome could see them double digits out of first?

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.

The Jose Mourinho Era begins against a familiar foe

  • West Ham v. Tottenham Hotspur — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho have matched wits many times, which could help the former in his bid to get ready for a rankled Spurs side to kickstart the Premier League weekend.

Mourinho has only matched up with six managers more than Pellegrini in his career, and boasts a 7W-3D-4L record. Can he quickly get Spurs put together for a visit to a desperate Irons side.

Chelsea, Man City put slim title hopes on the line

  • Manchester City v. Chelsea — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC

Both Pep Guardiola‘s City and Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea have lost to Liverpool, meaning their chances to directly affect the Reds’ title hopes are limited. Matches like this one are the ones that get the Reds salivating, in fact, knowing that only one team can snare three points.

City enters the day nine points back of first and a point behind Chelsea and Leicester City. The Top Four race sure looks clear cut right now — the chasing pack is eight points behind fourth — but failure to win on Saturday will likely leave either side double-digit points back of first.

Knock off the Red Devils? Wilder things have happened

  • Sheffield United v. Manchester United — Sunday, 11:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has the newly-promoted side in fifth place on the table, one point better than his celebrated visitors. The Blades will sit no worse than five points back of the Top Four if they can beat Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Red Devils, adding another big name to a season of results which already includes a defeat of Arsenal and draws against Chelsea and Spurs. United is still without Paul Pogba and now will also miss Scott McTominay. Another upset brewing?

Reds hope to get back to business as usual in title fight

  • Crystal Palace v. Liverpool — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

A week removed from a glitzy show against Man City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds now visit a Palace side who is probably getting sick of facing the Premier League’s best. Roy Hodgson‘s table rise has been stunted by a four-match winless run that includes 2-0 losses to Man City, Leicester City, and Chelsea to go with a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

A Liverpool win will boost it clearer of Man City and/or Chelsea, as the Reds seek a double-digit lead on the field (Second-place Leicester City is away to Brighton and Hove Albion).

Arsenal looks to right wobbly league ship versus slumping Saints

  • Arsenal v. Southampton — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Unai Emery‘s Gunners may be doing fine in the Europa League, but they’ve taken just two points from 12 since an Oct. 6 defeat of Bourrnemouth at the Emirates Stadium. Saints only win since mid-September in any competition is a 4-0 demolition of rivals Portsmouth. If Arsenal cannot get right here, well…

The 2 Robbies break down Tottenham’s big switch from Poch to Mou

Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images
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Maybe you saw the firing of Mauricio Pochettino coming, and maybe you even though Jose Mourinho could be in the running to take his place, but the whole thing happening in rapid fire fashion calls for something different.

Call it an emergency podcast for The 2 Robbies.

[ MORE: Ederson back in training ]

Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle respond to the shocking and divisive news coming from North London earlier this week.

Tottenham Hotspur sacked Pochettino and quickly replaced him with The Special One. This episode also includes some of Jose’s first words as the new Spurs Head Coach.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Pochettino leaves emotional whiteboard message to Spurs

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Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff have left Tottenham Hotspur, but not without fond words for the North London set.

Pochettino’s backroom staff was also dismissed, with assistant Jesus Perez and coaches Miguel D’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez leaving to make room for Jose Mourinho’s crew.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

And Perez wanted to make sure that the world knew the final words Pochettino left for his players, something that has Tottenham supporters even more emotional.

It also surely plays as a political piece which will increase the villain status of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who’s been under fire for not helping Pochettino by selling players who did not want to be in North London.

Even Mourinho heaped praise on his predecessor.

“Mauricio, for the work he did, this club will be always his home,” Mourinho said. “He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he work with. The door is always open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”

Get your tissues, Spurs fans.