Sunday will be the first time that the New England Revolution and LA Galaxy see one another since last year’s MLS Cup Final where the California side claimed their fifth league title over the upstart Revs. Going into the weekend, the two sides sit even with one another on 20 points, but the Revolution have played one game fewer than their West coast opponents. The Galaxy go into the matchup on a two-game winning streak, while the hosting Revolution will look to end a horrid run of form that has seen them go four straight games without a victory.
For the Galaxy, this rematch will be missing one key component from last year’s final: Landon Donovan. The retirement of one of the US’s greatest players, however, has done little to slow down the Galaxy attack. One of the more surprising contributors to the offense, in particular, has to be Alan Gordon. Last season, Gordon contributed a grand total of five goals as he split the season between the San Jose Earthquakes and Galaxy. The 33-year-old veteran has nearly matched last season’s tally just 14 games into the season leading the LA attack with a team-high four goals, including his game-winner against the Houston Dynamo off the bench. While Gordon may lead the team in goals, don’t forget about the Irish legend Robbie Keane and the speedy Gyasi Zardes that are also capable of sparking the offense. This three-headed monster could cause fits for Jermaine Jones and the rest of the New England backline.
Where the Galaxy will struggle, however, is in defense. Despite their impressive record, LA are one of only three teams in the Western Conference to have a negative goal differential. Even with the two straight shutout victories leading up to this matchup, it is still yet to be seen how the center back pairing of Omar Gonzales and Leonardo will deal with an elite forward line like the one New England possesses. Through 14 games this season, the Galaxy have managed to keep clean sheets just five times, and a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Kaká’s Orlando City showed just how bad things can get.
Even with the four-game winless streak, the Revolution haven’t been shutout since early April, and their attack shows no signs of slowing down. The trio of Charlie Davies, Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo has combined for 11 goals to start the season and you have to go back all the way to that last shutout against Columbus to see a game when one of those three didn’t score. The Revs are currently tied with the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas for the most goals scored this season, and a visit from the Galaxy provides them with a great opportunity to take sole possession of the lead.
The biggest problem going into Sunday’s match for the Revs has to be suspensions. Last week’s game against DC United saw Lee Nguyen and Chris Tierney, both constant fixtures in Jay Heaps’ starting 11, pick up red cards. The absence of these two key players could pose a serious problem for the hosts, especially against a high quality opponent such as the Galaxy. Heaps’ ability to adjust his squad to make up for these gaps, paired with the reaction from the rest of the team will play a pivotal role in deciding Sunday’s result.
In their seven home games this season, New England has yet to lose one and I don’t see that changing on Sunday. The biggest factor in the match for me has to be attack of the Revolution and I just don’t think that LA possesses the necessary talent in defense to shut down Davies, Agudelo and Bunbury. With that being said, I think the Revs will defend their home ground and win 2-1.