Los Angeles Galaxy have won their fifth championship title in the North American Professional Football League MLS. At the conclusion of Landon Donovan’s great career the favourites defeated the New England Revolution, with former Schalke player Jermaine Jones, 2-1 (1-1, 0-0) after extra time on the night which stretched from Sunday to Monday (December 7-8). “Galaxy enjoyed the great advantage of playing the final at home. They are a really good team but we managed to keep the game open for a long time”, said Jones, who moved to the Major League Soccer last August after the World Cup in Brazil and contributed much to the “Revs” reaching the final for the fifth time. However, the team from near Boston failed to end their run of defeats at the final stage.
Gyasi Zardes scored to give Los Angeles the lead in the 52nd minute in front of 27,000 spectators at StubHub Center. Chris Tierney equalised in the 79th minute for the “Revs”, who had beaten the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference final (also the MLS semi-finals). As at the previous MLS finals in 2002 and 2005 between these two teams the match went into extra time. Irish international striker Robbie Keane then scored the winner in the 111th minute. The 34-year-old had already been elected by the MLS as the “Most Valuable Player” before the end of the season. But after the final all eyes turned to Landon Donovan.
The former Bayer Leverkusen and FC Bayern Munich midfielder, who also played with Everton FC in the Premier League, had surprisingly announced a few months earlier that he would retire at the end of the season. “It is pure joy”, said Donovan after winning an MLS Cup final for the sixth time. “When you end a career in such a way, then you feel the absolute pleasure of the sport”.Much of the US media dedicated large articles to the 32-year-old, describing his career unique in North American football. The renowned magazine “Sports Illustrated” praised him as an American who had reached the status of a top star in world football.
After he was elected the best player at the U17 World Cup, Donovan moved to Leverkusen at the age of 17. Before 2005 he played only a few Bundesliga matches as he was on loan to the San Jose Earthquakes, with whom he won the 2001 and 2003 MLS titles. The Californian has been with Galaxy since 2005. As there are no matches in the MLS between the beginning of December and March, he used these breaks to join up with Bayern Munich (2009) and Everton (2010 and 2011). It was noticeable that Donovan performed much better in his home country than in Europe.
“My performance in this final against New England was not great. But as always I did everything to help my team win”, said Donovan, who could get a job within Galaxy’s leadership. He earned 157 caps (57 goals) with the US national team, but surprisingly was not nominated for the 2014 World Cup by coach Juergen Klinsmann. This decision was hotly and controversially discussed in the USA. However, he got a farewell match as captain of the US team against Ecuador (1-1) on October 10. The greatest player of US football retired at Carson holding records for championship titles, goals and assists.
“Don’t we all wish to retire like Landon? Is there any better script?” asked Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, under whose direction Donovan played with the national team at the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals. “It was a great honour to play with him for four years. Nobody else has deserved such a great conclusion”, said Robbie Keane. It was appropriate that he scored the winner for the 2-1 victory which allowed Galaxy to replace last year’s champions Sporting Kansas City. Los Angeles’ last title was 2012, with David Beckham still in their line-up.
Keane, who joined the MLS from Tottenham Hotspurs in 2011, was again one of the stalwarts alongside Donovan for the 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2014 champions. The 34-year-old striker scored 20 goals and recorded 14 assists during the latest season. Keane won the competition for the “Most Valuable Player” (MVP) ahead of Lee Nguyen, of the New England Revolution, and former Wolfsburg player Obafemi Martins of the Seattle Sounders.
The team from Seattle concluded the regular season after 34 matches ahead of Galaxy, but then lost the semi-final to Los Angeles. The team from the US Federal State of Washington, however, recorded the best average attendance, also better than many European top clubs. An average gate of 38,912 spectators watched the Sounders’ home games. The professional league in the USA and Canada, to be increased from 19 to 20 clubs in the 2015 season, achieved an attendance record. An average of 19,174 spectators attended each match during the 19th MLS season.