The MLS Cup is right around the corner, with the New England Revolution and LA Galaxy battling each other tomorrow afternoon at the StubHub Center to decide the champion of the league.
It’s no secret that the Galaxy are considered favorites in this matchup, even though the Revs have shown their capability to string together highly-consistent form in the second half of the season, including playoff victories over the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew.
But what’s the difference about the Galaxy that could present a major problem to the Jay Heap’s team?
It’s not necessarily the fact that the Galaxy have high-octane scorers and a rock-solid defense, characterized this season by their goals against (GA) statistic, tied for the league’s lowest total alongside DC United.
The Galaxy are just very clinical on their home turf, with a 14-1-4 record on the season, and the fanfare alongside Landon Donovan’s retirement has set the story line for an dramatic LA victory that properly sees the American legend out of professional soccer.
However, the Revs have showed they are an excellent squad from top to bottom, and they’re definitely relishing this opportunity to perform on Major League Soccer’s biggest stage.
With that being said, let’s take a look at three circumstances to observe from the Revolution, if they were to win this matchup.
1. Pressuring the Galaxy in midfield and back line
It’s one of the most notable aspects of the Revolution’s successful performances and has caused their past opponents major issues. When you see Lee Nguyen and Scott Caldwell, among others, sprinting up the field and pressing hard against their opponent in hopes of getting a turnover to spur a counterattack, all it takes is one mistake from one player, and the next thing you know, Nguyen’s heading in the other direction leading a dangerous man-advantage break. The Galaxy are definitely planning for this style of play, but it’s hard to abstain from mistakes that force a team to be nearly perfect on the ball.
2. Bobby Shuttleworth lights out in net
Shuttleworth wasn’t the sure-fire No.1 goalkeeper to start the season, as Brad Knighton was acquired from Vancouver with the aim of having a goalie competition. Heaps made sure to go with the hot hand on a game-by-game basis, either Knighton or Shuttleworth, and the 27-year-old New York native won the job and never looked back. In the playoffs, Shuttleworth has proved himself time and time again as the last line of defense, and he’s clearly made wonderful strides from last season, now that his consistency stands at the highest level it’s ever been. If the match stays close, this goalkeeper could be the sole difference between a Revs’ win or loss.
3. Successful aerial intentions led by Tierney
The Galaxy have a great aerial defender in Omar Gonzalez, and the Revs just showed that they will take to the air last week, when both goals in the second leg came by way of Chris Tierney feeding Charlie Davies in the box. Tierney, who has one of the most dynamic left legs in the league concerning set pieces and crosses, will likely face stiff defending on the wing. But when LA slumps off him a tad, focusing their attention on Nguyen and Co. in the center of the pitch, the outlook of this contest could suddenly change.