CARSON, Calif. – Another chance for the New England Revolution to bring a first-ever MLS Cup title back to Foxborough beckons on Sunday afternoon, when the Revs will visit the LA Galaxy in MLS Cup 2014.
This is the Revolution’s fifth visit to the league’s championship match – only the Galaxy (9) has been there more frequently – but the club remains in search of a first title after heartbreaking losses in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007. The Galaxy, meanwhile, is trying to become the first team to win MLS Cup five times.
Coverage from StubHub Center begins at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday with ESPN, UniMas and WZLX 100.7 FM carrying the action. Comcast SportsNet will air a live postgame show immediately after the final whistle with on-field reaction from head coach Jay Heaps and Revolution players.
Current Form: Revs hottest team in MLS; Galaxy have been unbeatable at home
While pundits have labeled MLS Cup a David vs. Goliath matchup, in truth, it’s more akin to Clash of the Titans.
No team in MLS has been better than the Revolution through the past four months; the Revs have put together a remarkable 12-1-2 run in their past 15 games, averaging more than two goals per game in that span. They’re also the league’s top-scoring team in the postseason, scoring 11 goals through four matches.
Following a 7-3 aggregate win over the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, New England ran up against the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Championship. A dramatic 2-2 draw in the second leg at Gillette Stadium – paced by a two-goal performance from Charlie Davies – was enough to lift the Revs to a 4-3 aggregate win and send them back to MLS Cup for the first time since 2007.
What’s perhaps been most impressive about the Revolution’s recent run of form is the club’s road record – the Revs are 5-1-1 in their last seven games away from home, scoring 16 goals in the process.
“I think it’s our mindset, going in, saying that we can win anywhere we play,” said Teal Bunbury, who has two goals and two assists this postseason. “It’s about a mindset right now, and that’s staying positive with each other and knowing that it’s a big-time game coming up, so we have to make sure that we’re staying concentrated.”
In the LA Galaxy, the Revs will face their most challenging opponent of the season.
One of the league’s best teams from wire to wire in 2014, LA finished just three points back of Seattle Sounders FC for the Supporters’ Shield – not decided until the final day of the regular season. The Galaxy did get a bit of revenge, however, eliminating the Sounders when it mattered most in the Western Conference Championship.
Bruce Arena’s side started the MLS Cup Playoffs with a 5-0 aggregate win over last year’s conference champ, Real Salt Lake, in the Western Conference Semifinals. All five goals in that series came in a 5-0 win in the second leg at StubHub Center, where the Galaxy has been essentially unbeatable this season.
LA’s only home loss this year came in the season opener all the way back on March 8 – a 1-0 defeat to RSL. Since then, the Galaxy has gone 14-0-4 in 18 league contests at StubHub Center.
Past Meetings: Revs hoping third time’s the charm against the Galaxy in MLS Cup
The lone regular-season meeting between the Revs and Galaxy this year was hardly a preview of MLS Cup – both sides deployed lineups that will look markedly different on Sunday afternoon, while a pair of first-half red cards contributed to a highly unusual set of circumstances throughout the night.
Going further back into the history books, Sunday’s matchup is an intriguing one from a league perspective. This is the third time the Revs and Galaxy have met in MLS Cup, marking the first three-time matchup in MLS history.
The previous two MLS Cup showdowns between the Revs and Galaxy ended in similarly heartbreaking fashion for New England – a pair of 1-0 losses in extra time in both 2002 and 2005. Current Revs head coach Jay Heaps was on the field for both of those games, but that will be far from his mind come Sunday afternoon.
“He hasn’t really talked about that too much,” said Bunbury, who won MLS Cup with Sporting Kansas City last season, but didn’t appear in the final. “He’s been very positive, says we have a great group of guys, which we do. So we’re just focusing on Sunday and not really too much the past.
“But for the fans and the organization, this being the fifth final for the Revolution, our plan is to bring home a Cup.”
Injury Report: Both sides healthy ahead of the year’s biggest game
In a one-game, championship scenario, it’s always best when both teams have the full complement of players at their disposal. All indications point to that being the case on Sunday afternoon.
The Revs don’t have a single player listed on their injury report, while only A.J. DeLaGarza shows up on the Galaxy’s injured list. The LA defender missed the second leg of the Western Conference Championship with a hamstring injury, but stated earlier this week that he’d be healthy and available for MLS Cup.
Final Thoughts: Revs know they have an opportunity to make history on Sunday
“The history is very significant, especially for me being a local guy,” said Davies, a New Hampshire native. “I’ve always looked up to the New England Revolution players and I’ve always wanted to be with the New England Revolution, especially with them in an MLS Cup final.
“But at the end of the day, it’s a new chapter, it’s a new team, and we want to make history here. We really have to just focus on each other and this game. The past is the past and hopefully the future is the future. We’re excited and we know we’re focused and determined to get it done.”