I will give only one spoiler in today's simulation, it does into extra time and it was wonderful from start to finish for the most part. If my virtual recreation plays out in anyway close to the real thing, the neutrals will be very happy.
The losing team and their fans, the New England Revolution or Los Angeles Galaxy, perhaps not so much.
Again, my internet is atrocious, so no Match Day Squads from FIFA or in-form ratings bonuses or penalties, just the latest updated rosters:
REVOLUTION LINEUP (4-1-4-1)
Bobby Shuttleworth; Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell; Scott Caldwell; Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones, Teal Bunbury; Charlie Davies
LA GALAXY LINEUP (4-4-2)
Penedo; Rogers, Gonzalez, DeLaGarza, Gargan; Donovan, Sarvas, Juninho, Ishizaki; Keane, Zardes
The first half is what's actually going to decide this game in my opinion, because New England actually dominates the first thirty minutes, but fails to get a shot off on goal. Actually, dominates isn't the right word...because arguably Zardes should've had a hattrick by the 50th minute as he wasted about four really good chances in this game. But it's the Revs who are have the bulk of the possession, they just can't do anything with it. Their best chance is surprisingly Caldwell alone at the top of the box twenty minutes it, but instead of shooting, he takes a touch forward and tries to thread an impossible ball through two defenders to Jones.
Thirty minutes in, Donovan cuts across the top of the box and neatly plays in Ishizaki who slots home the opener with a classic off the ball run that no one from New England tracks. The lead would appear to be short lived however, as the Revs pile pressure on the LA backline, earning several corners including one that Goncalves flashes over the bar right before halftime.
The second half is more of the same, Zardes wasting chances and the Revs not shooting. At long last, Teal Bunbury works his way into the box and finds Jones at the back post who roofs it over a sprawling Penedo for the eqaulizer. The Revs would've probably generated more chances, but were called offside an unheard of 5 times, including Jones twice and Caldwell once. For reasons unknown, Nguyen is subbed of for Daigo Kobayashi in the 70th, and a few minutes later, it's the substitute missing a sitter horribly wide that could've put the Revs in front. In the end, only Shuttleworth is there to force extra time, stonewalling a beautiful Keane free kick in the 75th and cutting down the angle on a Donovan shot in the 85th forcing it wide. Regulation ends at 1-1.
Extra time sets up just too well for LA, as the Revs are out of subs and have a hobbled Davies up top. Sub Diego Fagundez and Jones try to make up the difference, but eventually the Revs are caught out on the counter. Keane would weave his way on a forty-yard run and finish into the upper corner in the 95th before centering a pass for Zardes to finish in the 95th right before the end of the first extra time period. But the Revolution did not go down without a fight, and led by sub Andy Dorman they clawed their way back into it with a scrappy goal in the 115th. Bunbury forced a turnover in LA's defensive third, but Gargan recovered it and tried to play back to his keeper Penedo and Gonzalez was unable to hold off a sliding Dorman who slid home the Revs second under Penedo.
That would be all the scoring though, as the match ended in extra time 3-2 to LA.
WHY THIS SIMULATION WILL BE RIGHT
Because the Galaxy, much like the New York Red Bulls, just create so many offensive chances, they're bound to score goals. There's a quiet efficiency to LA's attack that makes it so impressive at times because it doesn't even have to flashy or slick, it's just really good soccer. The Galaxy were organized and compact in defense and actually did most of their damage when they bypassed the midfield and let Zardes and Keane go 2-on-4 with the Revs backline. I haven't seen a lot of Galaxy games this year, but taking on defenders seems to be something they do regularly, so in that style this simulation was accurate for both teams. In particular the Revs did exactly what they've been doing all year, careful build-up play in the attacking third with a ton of passes and picking the best moments to shoot. Set pieces were a big factor that neither team scored off directly, but forced the goalkeepers to make good saves.
WHY THIS SIMULATION WILL BE WRONG
Because the Revs formation was essentially broken by me and virtual holding mids Caldwell and Dorman. I probably should've had the Revs in a 4-2-3-1, but I think it's more accurate to sim with Jones a little higher up the field. What I was pleasantly surprised to see was Caldwell and Dorman all over the attacking third instead of their usual support role. I wasn't upset, but it basically gave the Galaxy free passes up the field to the strikers and gave LA a spearhead for almost every attack. And it doesn't help that on three different occasions, the Revs defense let Donovan and Ishizaki literally dribble into the penalty area uncontested in 3-on-1 situations. It didn't lead to any goals, but having Jones in a true holding role could've given them more support and double-team potential that LA used to shut down the Revs at the other end.
Also, Lee Nguyen is not getting subbed out of this game. The Revs had two late chances in the regulation to score a winner and I think had virtual Lee been taking them instead of his midfield counterparts, I think the Revs could've stolen this game at the death as they've done so many times during the season. The biggest gripe I've always had in these simulations is that players don't shoot enough and when they do they're usually dreadful at it. Zardes in particular was bad but at least he actually shot the ball. Charlie Davies registered one shot that I could see and it was blocked, and he among many of the Revs attackers had several open looks and opted to either pass or dribble that usually created a turnover.
With that said, this was by far the most entertaining sim I've done and while I hope it's not accurate, it's impressive to actually see both of these team's styles accurately represented in the video game.