2014 MLS Playoffs

VIDEO: A first-person view inside LA Galaxy’s wild MLS Cup locker room party


Unfortunately for most of us — unless you’re a professional athlete, of course — the closest we’re likely to ever get to the wild, celebratory scenes inside a locker room after winning a championship is the above video.

Following the LA Galaxy’s dramatic 2-1 MLS Cup triumph on Sunday, team equipment coordinator Rafael Verdin entered the Galaxy locker room equipped with a GoPro camera strapped either to his head or goggles.

I’ll say this: those Galaxy boys sure know how to party. With three MLS Cup championships in four years, I guess we shouldn’t expect anything less. And if you ever wanted to know what’s on the other side of this Omar Gonzalez celebratory tradition, here’s your answer.

Keane’s match-winning boots repped Ivory Coast in flag mix-up; QPR rumor based on old quotes


Robbie Keane’s MLS Cup-winning goal came from boots with the wrong flag, while rumors of a loan move to London are fueled by two-year-old quotes.

The 34-year-old Irish striker took to Facebook over the weekend to show matching new boots for his son and him, but there was something amiss with Ireland’s flag (unless he wanted it to look right when he looked down).

[ MLS: LA wins fifth title ]

The green, white and orange of Ireland’s flag wasn’t stitched on his footwear, rather the orange, white and green of the Ivory Coast. And his Facebook fans were all over it.


Meanwhile, a bevy of stories making their way around the web this morning claim that Keane is wanted by QPR boss Harry Redknapp as “the ideal” January transfer window pickup.

And while the prolific MLS man could be a nice addition for QPR and a few other clubs, the quote comes from two years ago. Several outlets have even taken down their posts on the “newfound” interest.

Facing retirement as MLS champion, Landon Donovan has varied emotions

1 Comment

CARSON, Calif. — When Landon Donovan walked into his final press conference after the LA Galaxy had just won yet another MLS title, one could picture his head held high in absolute pleasure.

But for Donovan, his illustrious career spanning over a decade has completely come to a finish, and with that conclusion, mixed emotions engulfed the longtime American soccer standout.

“I’m in a little bit of a daze, to be honest,” he said. “There’s a lot going on, obvious excitement, some sadness. There’s uncertainty and just pure joy for this team and what we did. And it just feels a bit strange is the best way to put it.”

Donovan played full time in this afternoon’s contest, but didn’t record a goal of his own to perfectly end the storybook narrative fueled by Donovan’s impending retirement.

Although the former Everton man is excited for the future without a commitment to professional soccer, he admits that certain victorious moments, such as this title win, will certainly be missed.

[RELATED: Donovan hopes to finish a champ]

“As much excitement as there is about the game, there’s excitement that tomorrow I don’t have to train anymore. I don’t have to do a lot of things that were the not fun parts of the job. Along with that, I don’t get experiences like today anymore. There’s a lot of good and there’s going to be some bad.”

Donovan could look back at his playing days, rejoicing in his personal accolades and accomplishments, but in the end, he declares that relationships formed with his teammates have served a greater purpose.

“There are so many ups and downs in the season, and when you’re part of a team, you go through so many different things throughout the year, and so you sit next to guys in the locker room, you talk about life. You realize they have things going on off the field, and when you finish a year like this, all of that comes out. It’s family. They really are your family.”

When asked about his strong statistical numbers this season, and whether he could still keep his fitness strong on the pitch, Donovan reiterated the fact that his retirement depended on timing.

With a trophy in hand and old age creeping up, the California native doesn’t see any finer way of vacating his legacy.

“Could I play longer physically if I wanted to? Probably,” Donovan said. “But this feels right for me, so it’s always better to retire than get cut. And I’m fortunate to be able to do that.”

Inside Look: How the LA Galaxy won MLS Cup 2014 and cemented their legacy

1 Comment

First things first, the soccer played in Sunday’s 2014 MLS Cup final was not a perfect advertisement of “the beautiful game.” Let’s remember, though, that cup finals rarely are, no matter what part of the world we’re talking about.

They’re almost always cagey affairs with tons of adrenaline and anxiety beforehand, both sides unwilling to be the ones who “lost” the game, and stretches of “good soccer” being few and far between.

The fine folks over at Backheel.com probably described Sunday’s final, and all cup finals for that matter, as well as can be done.

That said, here’s how the LA Galaxy won MLS Cup 2014, their third title in four years, willing their way past the New England Revolution in Sunday’s final.

“We own the left” – LA Galaxy  On the Revs’ left side of defense, you’ll find Chris Tierney and Jose Goncalves — two veteran defenders ranking among the top five or 10 at their respective position within MLS. On the right, there’s A.J. Soares and Andrew Farrell — a pair of young, promising, up-and-down performers opponents frequently target.

Here’s everything the Galaxy tried to during the first half on Sunday. And — shocker — which side did they target most frequently?


The number of attacking-half touches by left back Robbie Rogers (14) tells you everything you need to know about Bruce Arena‘s attacking gameplan. The game’s opening goal also came — albeit, secondarily — from targeting Farrell who was nowhere near up to the challenge of marking Gyasi Zardes one-on-one.

[ RELATED: Recap: Galaxy top Revs in extra time, send Donovan out on top ]

Sarvas locked in on Nguyen — I thought Juninho might draw the assignment of following MVP finalist and Revs attack catalyst Lee Nguyen all over the field, but it was Marcelo Sarvas, instead, which makes plenty of sense considering the two switch roles over and over through the course of 90 minutes with great situational awareness.

In the first half particularly, Sarvas was all over Nguyen, allowing him fewer than 20 touches in the Revs’ attacking half, including a whopping zero inside 25 yards from goal. In the rare instance found the ball at his feet, he had little time — and even fewer options — to pick out a forward pass of carry the ball forward, something he did so devastatingly well in the regular season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS Cup coverage | PST on Twitter ]

Second-half adjustments — Donovan moves more centrally and Zardes goes wide. This one didn’t seem to make a ton of sense from Arena. For starters, both players are far bigger contributors in the positions in which the started the game. Beyond that, it lets Farrell off the hook by killing the overlapping moves of Donovan and Rogers.

Patrick Mullins took Charlie Davies‘ place after 72 minutes and immediately had an impact on the game. It took him seven minutes to set up the Revs’ equalizer, but the biggest difference between the two forwards’ shifts was evident in sheer work rate. Mullins made the left-channel run that Davies had failed to all game long, and in doing so set up an overlapping Chris Tierney for a goal. Very simple stuff, really.

[ RELATED: VIDEO: Robbie Keane scores the MLS Cup-winning goal ]

The brightest star steps up in the biggest moment — As I said after Robbie Keane scored the game-winning goal, you’d expect nothing less of the 2014 MLS MVP. He’d struggled up until that point, selfishly trying to create shots of his own when he had better options elsewhere, But when he got behind the backline of the Revs, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind he would find the back of the net.

In the end, experience and the been there, done that factor was just enough to nudge the Galaxy over the line.

MLS Cup Champions: LA Galaxy beat New England Revolution, 2-1, in extra time

1 Comment

CARSON, Calif. — Defeating the New England Revolution 2-1 in the MLS Cup on Sunday, the LA Galaxy is the first team in Major League Soccer history to capture five league titles.

Robbie Keane scored the game-winning goal in extra time, while Chris Tierney leveled the score in the 79th minute after Gyasi Zardes’ 52nd-minute conversion.

The Galaxy opened the match with a quick chance in the 2nd minute, when Robbie Rogers found space on the left wing and successfully cut inside the box to get a shot on goal, only to see defender AJ Soares clear away the bouncing ball at the last second.

Around the 21st-minute mark, league MVP Robbie Keane gathered the loose ball at the top of the box. After taking a short touch, he fired a seething attempt that, fortunately for the Revs, met goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth directly in the chest.

One minute later, Zardes and Donovan executed tight combination play near the left post, but New England’s back line managed to shut down the attack before any danger altered the scoreline.

In the 32nd minute, Keane had the ball at his feet in favorable spot, but his long-range effort  eluded the crossbar.

[RELATED: Three things needed for Galaxy MLS Cup victory]

Then, eight minutes passed and Landon Donovan spearheaded one of the Galaxy’s best occasions of the half, when the USMNT legend fed an accurate through ball to a wide-open Zardes, whose strike dashed wide of the iron.

New England dominated possession toward the end of the half, and overall, Jay Heaps’ squad enjoyed that statistical advantage. Lee Nguyen, Charlie Davies and Jermaine Jones weren’t able to muster legitimate opportunities on frame, though.

The first 45 minutes of the Cup ultimately marked a defensive struggle between the two talented sides, with both teams totaling one shot on target each.

Five minutes gone in the second half, Kelyn Rowe pounced on an LA turnover to spur the break, but Nguyen, corralling the ball in the box, inched forward and collapsed on contact.

The referee didn’t call a penalty during that sequence, and two minutes later (52nd minute), Zardes buried a left-footer in the five-yard box to give his crew the 1-0 lead.

[WATCH: Zardes for the 1-0 lead]

In the 69th minute on a counterattack, Keane busted into the middle of the pitch, 1-on-1 with 2013 MLS Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves. The Ireland international made a crafty move to dart past the Revs’ defender, but couldn’t beat Shuttleworth, who sprinted off his line for the deflection.

Right when you thought the Revolution were out of it, Goncalves hit a well-weighted lobbed pass to substitute forward Patrick Mullins, and, hustling forward, the rookie assisted Tierney for the close-range finish.

[WATCH: Tierney ties it]

The remainder of 90 minutes, except a bizarre chip that hit the crossbar from Teal Bunbury, fizzled out. And the 1-1 score couldn’t name the champion, so extra time commenced.

The pace of the game slowed at this point, and the opening fifteen minutes showed fatigue from both groups. However, the Revolution stayed in the attacking end, and the Galaxy were barely able to advance up the pitch.

The next fifteen minutes of extra time had Landon Donovan miss a dangerous free kick, and in the 11th minute, Keane, positioned similarly to LA’s first score, banged home the winner.

[WATCH: Keane’s winner]

New England pushed hard and desperately threw men forward. Cross after cross, nothing in the scoring department materialized for the Eastern Conference champs.

Time expired. Fireworks blasted, and the StubHub Center erupted. The LA Galaxy stormed the field, ready to celebrate their return to the top.