Sunday’s 19th MLS Cup Final between Los Angeles and New England is shaping up to be more than just your "usual" game (ESPN 3pm ET).
It will be Landon Donovan’s final MLS game as he is retiring. Arguably the best US born soccer player, Donovan is Major League Soccer’s career leader in goals scored (144), assists (136), post-season goals (25), and is tied for first in MLS Cup titles with five.
Bruce Arena, the Galaxy coach, will be making his sixth MLS Cup Final appearance of which he has won four (two more than any other coach) and lost one, including two wins with DC Utd and two wins and a loss with Los Angeles.
Galaxy’s Robbie Keane is MLS’s 2014 MVP – an award won by Landon Donovan in 2009. Keane was Galaxy’s top scorer in 2014 with 20, the same number as New England’s top scorer, Lee Nguyen.
The referee for the game is Mark Geiger, Pro Referees referee of the year. In addition to a full schedule of MLS games, Geiger refereed three World Cup games in Brazil this year progressing further in the tournament than any other US referee.
Los Angeles will be making a record ninth appearance in MLS Cup 19 and will be looking for their fifth win. New England will also be making a record fifth appearance in the final (second only to LA), however, they will be seeking their first win after four defeats, including two defeats by Galaxy.
1996 LA 2-3 DC L (Lothar Osiander - coach)
1999 LA 0-2 DC L (Sigi Schmid)
2001 LA 1-2 San Jose L (Sigi Schmid
2002 LA 1-0 New England W (Sigi Schmid)
2005 LA 1-0 New England W (Steve Sampson)
2009 LA 1-1 Salt Lake L (Bruce Arena)
2011 LA 1-0 Houston W (Bruce Arena)
2012 LA 3-1 Houston W (Bruce Arena)
2002 NE 0-1 Los Angeles L (Steve Nichol)
2005 NE 0-1 Los Angeles L (Steve Nichol)
2006 NE 1-1 Houston L (Steve Nichol)
2007 NE 2-1 Houston L (Steve Nichol)
Commentator Adrian Healey, analyst Taylor Twellman and reporter Mónica Gónzalez will call the match with host Max Bretos, Alexi Lalas and Kasey Keller, providing pregame, halftime and post-game studio coverage from the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif.
Taylor Twellman led the New England Revolution during the team’s four MLS Cup appearances in six years (2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007), while Alexi Lalas played for the Galaxy from 2001-2003, and returned as the team’s president and general manager from 2006-2008. [top]
The World Cup has been played for 19 times prior to this year, and has been won by eight nations – three from South America and five from Europe: Brazil (5), Italy (4) Germany / West Germany (3), Argentina, Uruguay (2) England, Spain, France (1).
Italy, Germany, France & Mexico have hosted the tournament twice, while England, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, USA, Japan and South Africa have been hosts just once.
No European team has won the Cup in South America.
Only one person his managed his nation to a second World Cup win - Vittoria Pozzo of Italy in 1934 and 1938.
1930 (Uruguay) Uruguay 4-2 Argentina / Top scorer - Guillermo Stabile (Arg) 8 / Manager: AH Suppici
1934 (Italy) Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia / Top scorer - Oldřich Nejedly (Cze) 5/ Mgr: Vittorio Pozzo
1938 (France) Italy 4-2 Hungary / Top scorer - Leônidas (Bra) 5 / Mgr: Vittorio Pozzo
1950 (Brazil) Uruguay 2-0 Brazil / Top scorer - Ademir (Bra) 8 / Mgr: Juan Fontana
1954 (Switzerland) WGermany 3-2 Hungary / Top scorer: S Kocsis 11 (Hun) / Mgr: Sepp Herberger
1958 (Sweden) Brazil 5-2 Sweden / Top scorer - Just Fontaine (Fra) 13 / Mgr - Vincente Feola
1962 (Chile) Brazil 3-1 Czechoslovakia / Top scorer – six players on 4 goals / Mgr - Aymoré Moreira
1966 (England) England 4-2 WGermany / Top scorer – Eusebio (Por) 9 / Mgr – Alf Ramsey
1970 (Mexico) Brazil 4-1 Italy / Top scorer - Gerd Muller 10 (Ger) / Mgr - Mario Zagallo
1974 (WGermany) WGermany 2-1 Holland / Top scorer - Grzegorz Lato 7 (Pol) / Mgr - Helmut Schön
1978 (Argentina) Argentina 3-1Holland / Top scorer - Mario Kempes 6 (Arg) / Mgr - César Luis Menotti
1982 (Spain) Italy 3-1 WGermany / Top scorer - Paulo Rossi (Ita) 6 / Mgr - Enzo Bearzot
1986 (Mexico) Argentina 3-1 WGermany / Top scorer - Gary Lineker 6 (Eng) / Mgr - Carlos Bilardo
1990 (Italy) WGermany 1-0 Argentina / Top scorer - Salvatore Schillaci 6 (Ita) / Mgr - Franz Beckenbauer
1994 (USA) Brazil 0(pks) - 0 Italy / Top scorer - Stoichkov & Salenko 6 (Bulg) / Mgr - Carlos Parreira
1998 (France)France 3-0 Brazil / Top scorer - Davor Šuker 6 (Cro) Mgr - Aimé Jacquet
2002 (Japan) Brazil 2-0 Germany / Top scorer - Ronaldo 8 (Bra) / Mgr - Luiz Felipe Scolari
2006 (Germany) Italy 1(pks) - 1 France / Top scorer - Miroslav Klose 5 (Ger) / Mgr - Marcello Lippi
2010 (South Africa) Spain 1-0 Holland / Top scorer – four players on 5 goals / Mgr - Vicente del Bosque [top]
Big is better does not necessarily apply to how good a country is at soccer or whether that country qualifies for the World Cup. The world’s three biggest countries (China, India & USA) have a decidedly spotty World Cup qualification record: India has never qualified, China once in (2002) and although the US has qualified for nine of the 19 final tournaments, overall results have been disappointing (one quarter final).
Here’s a summary of World Cup qualifiers by population.
Big Countries (six) - over 100 million: USA (314), Brazil (199), Nigeria (169), Russia (143), Japan (127), Mexico (121).
Only Brazil has won the World Cup
Not So Big countries (14) - over 20 million: Ivory Coast (20),Cameroon (22), Australia (23), Ghana (25), Algeria (38), Argentina (41), Spain (47), Colombia (48), South Korea (51), England (55), Italy (61), France (66), Iran (77), Germany (82).
Germany, Italy, England, Spain, France & Argentina have won the World Cup
Small countries (12) - under 20 million: Uruguay (3.4), Bosnia & Herz (4),Croatia (4.5), Costa Rica (5), Switzerland, Honduras (8) Portugal, Greece, Belgium, (11), Ecuador (16), Holland, Chile (17).
And the smallest country to qualify, Uruguay, has won the World Cup twice! (1930 & 1950).
Note: The population of China, who are not in the World Cup, is 1.35 billion!!
Most managers / coaches are nationals of the teams they handle but 14 of the 32 teams have hired foreign coaches:
Colombian managers (3) Ecuador, Costa Rica, Honduras
German (3) Cameroon, Switzerland, USA
Argentine (2) Colombia, Chile
Italian (2) Russia, Japan
Portuguese (2) Iran, Greece
Franch (1) Ivory Coast
Bosnian (1) Algeria
Confederations, teams, population, nicknames and managers
South America (6)
Argentina - Pop 41 million: Nickname- Los Gauchos or La Albiceleste: Coach - Alejandro Sabella
Brazil – 199m: Seleção or Canarinha or Auriverde: Luiz Felipe Scolari (aka Big Phil)
Chile - 17m: La Roja: Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina)
Colombia - 48m: Los Cafeteros: Jose Pekerman (Argentina)
Ecuador - 16m: Amarillos or La Tri, Reinaldo Rueda (Colombia)
Uruguay – 3.5m: La Celeste or La Garra Celeste or Los Charrúas: Oscar Tabarez
Algeria - 38m: Les Guerriers du Désert or Les Fennecs: Coach Vahid Halilhodzic (Bosnia)
Cameroon - 22m: Indomitable Lions: Volker Finke (Germany)
Ghana - 25m: Black Stars: Kwesi Appiah
Ivory Coast - 20m: The Elephants: Sabri Lamouchi (France)
Nigeria – 169m: Super Eagles: Stephen Keshi:
Australia - 23m: Socceroos: Ange Postecoglou
Iran - 77m: Team Melli: Carlos Queiroz (Portugal)
Japan - 127m: Blue Samuri: Alberto Xaccheroni (Italy)
South Korea – 51m: Taeguk Warriors: Myung-bo Hong
Belgium - 11m: Les Diables Rouges (French) Rode Duivels (Dutch): Marc Wilmots(Dutch)
England - 55m: Three Lions: Roy Hodgson
Italy - 61m: Azzuri: Cesare Prandelli
Germany - 82m: Nationalelf or die Mannschaft: Joachim Low
Russia - 143m: Sbornaya: Fabio Capello (Italy)
Greece – 11m: To Paratiko (Pirate Ship): Fernando Santos (Portugal)
Spain – 47m: La Furia Roja: Vincente Del Boaque
Switzerland - 8m: Nationalmannschaft (or Nati): Ottmar Hitzfeld (Germany)
Portugal - 11m: Selecção das Quinas (or Quinas ): Paulo Bento
Holland - 17m: Oranje: Louis Van Gaal
France - 66m: Les Bleus: Didier Deschamps
Croatia - 4.5m: Vatreni or Kockasti: Niko Kovac
Bosnia & Herzogina - 4m: Zmajevi, Ljljani, Zlatni Ljiljani (Dragons / Golden Lillies): Safet Susic
USA - 314m: Stars & Stripes, Yanks: Jurgen Klinsmann (Germany)
Mexico - 121m: El Tri: Miguel Herrera
Costa Rica - 5m: Los Ticos: Jorge Luis Pinto (Colombia)
Honduras – 8m: Los Catrachos: Luis Fernando Suarez (Colombia) [top]
It’s World Cup time and the place most teams will come to play their warm-up games is right here in the USA. Fifteen Brazil-bound teams will be heading to these shores for a last 90-minute kick around before the games kick off for the month-long tournament on June 12. Including the USA, that means 16 teams, or 50% of teams in the tournament, will be showcasing their skills before an American audience all around the country: New Jersey, St Louis, Texas, Washington DC, Florida, Chicago, Philadelphia, Maryland & Boston.
World Cup champions Spain will be playing El Salvador at FedEx Field in Landover MD on June 9. Sponsors will be looking for a crowd in excess of 60,000.
Most, if not all of the games will be on TV – bein Sports, ESPN, Fox and Univision.
Here’s the spread of 16 teams by Group
Group A(3) Bosnia & Herzegovinia, Mexico
Group B (1) Spain,
Group C (3) Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece
Group D (2) Costa Rica, England
Group E (3) Ecuador, Honduras, Ecuador
Group F(1) Nigeria,
Group G (2) Portugal, USA, Ghana
Group H (1) South Korea
And here are the games
May 29: Honduras v Turkey - RFK Stadium, Washington DC
May 30: Bosnia & Herzegovinia v Ivory Coast - St Louis.
May 31: Mexico vs Ecuador - Cowboy Stadium, Dallas
June 1: USA v Turkey - Red Bull Arena, Harrison NJ
June 1: Honduras v Israel - Compass Stadium, Houston
June 2: Costa Rica v Japan - Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
June 3: Mexico v Bosnia & Herzgvna – Soldier Field, Chicago
June 3: Greece v Nigeria - PPL Park, Philadelphia
June 4: England v Ecuador - Sun Life Stadium, Miami
June 4: Ivory Coast v El Salvador - Toyota Stadium, Dallas
June 6: Costa Rica v Ireland - PPL Park, Philadelphia
June 6: Mexico v Portugal - Gillette Stadium, Boston
June 6: Greece v Bolivia - Red Bull Arena, Harrison NJ
June 6: Japan v Zambia - Raymond James Stadium , Tampa
June 7: USA v Nigeria – EverBank Field, Jacksonsville, FL
June 7: England v Honduras - Sun Life Stadium, Miami
June 7: Spain v El Salvador - FedEx Field, Landover, MD
June 9: Ghana v South Korea - Sun Life Stadium, Miami
June 10: Portugal v Ireland – MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ [top]
With the final group games being played in Europe, South America and North, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) on Tuesday, 14 (of 32) teams have already qualified for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014:
Europe - 5 of 13 teams have qualified: Italy, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland.
On Tuesday four more teams will qualify with eight teams vying for 4 playoff spots.
South America - 3 of 5.5 teams have qualified: Brazil (as hosts), Argentina and Colombia.
On Tuesday, two more teams will qualify while the fifth team will make the playoffs (against Jordan from Asia).
Asia - 4 of 4.5 teams have qualified: Japan, Australia, Iran and South Korea. Jordan will playoff between the South American fifth team.
CONCACAF - 2 of 3.5 teams have qualified: USA & Costa Rica.
Three teams are still in the running for the third automatic qualification and / or playoff spot (against New Zealand from Oceania) - Mexico, Honduras & Panama.
Oceania - 0.5 teams qualify: New Zealand will playoff between the forth CONCACAF team.
Africa - 5 teams: none have qualified as of now, but Bob Bradley’s Egypt is in the running with a playoff game against Ghana.
On Tuesday, seven more teams will qualify for the trip to Brazil - Europe (4) South America (2) and CONCACAF (1) for a total of 21 confirmed teams. The balance of the 32 teams will come from Africa (5), Europe (4) and the two play spots between Asia and South America (1) and Oceania and CONCACAF (1). [top]