MLS Cup 2014

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

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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.

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

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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 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.

VIDEO: Robbie Keane goal leads LA Galaxy to 2014 MLS Cup title

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What’s that thing they say? “Big players show up in big games?”

If that is indeed the case, then Robbie Keane, 2014 MLS MVP, must be considered a “big player.” In Sunday’s 2014 MLS Cup final, the Irishman had a rough game the first 90 minutes.

Then, in the 111th minute, the fate of the Galaxy’s entire season landed at the feet of Keane, racing behind the New England Revolution backline all alone. Game (and season) over.

VIDEO: New England Revolution’s Chris Tierney levels 2014 MLS Cup final, 1-1

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Keeping the theme of childhood-fans-turned-first-team-stars going (Gyasi Zardes, too), Chris Tierney has put the New England Revolution back on level terms in the 2014 MLS Cup final (above video).

Tierney, 28, who is from nearby Wellesley, Massachusetts, talked at length this week about the pride he feels in representing his boyhood club in MLS’s championship game.

Patrick Mullins, only in the game seven minutes earlier, latched onto an over-the-top ball down the left channel, beating Omar Gonzalez to it before cutting back to an inside-cutting Tierney, who himself left Leonardo behind. LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo got a foot on the shot but the ball carried on and snuck inside the far post.

VIDEO: Gyasi Zardes puts LA Galaxy up 1-0 in MLS Cup 2014

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LA Galaxy homegrown product Gyasi Zardes drew first blood and gave his hometown club a 1-0 lead over the New England Revolution after seven second-half minutes of the 2014 MLS Cup final (above video).

In doing so, Zardes, a Hawthorne, California, native, became the first ever Homegrown Player to score a goal in MLS’s championship game.

Swedish midfielder Stefan Ishizaki picked up the assist on the goal, serving in a cross from the right that avoided a 18-yard box packed with Revs defenders. Zardes brought the ball down just outside the six-yard box, shrugged off a challenge from Andrew Farrell and beat Bobby Shuttleworth with a powerful shot to the far post.