The New England Revolution will welcome the Los Angeles Galaxy to Gillette Stadium on Sunday evening and the dominant storyline is undoubtedly how the match will serve as a rematch of last year's MLS Cup final.
The Revs lost on 2-1 that day, but there is a lot more to this year's iteration than first meets the eye. Check out three thoughts on the Galaxy and why Bruce Arena's squad may not be imposing as the 2014 version.
1.) The DP Factor: Jay Heaps has his own big-name player in Jermaine Jones, but Arena one ups him with two high-priced players. U.S. international center back Omar Gonzalez anchors the defense and more or less has a magnet attached to his head. To put it simply, anything that comes his way aerially he wins. The guy is also pretty darn good in the tackle.
At the other end of the field, Robbie Keane is about as dynamic a striker as there is in MLS. His movement is impeccable, he knows which run to make, and can finish from about anywhere on the field. However, he's coming off a nagging injury and I think is a 50/50 toss-up to play on Gillette's turf. If that's the case, Bobby Shuttleworth won't have to worry about a blast like this coming his way.
2.) The Blonde Mohawk: Okay, I only use that subheading for some thoughts on Gyasi Zardes because he rocks a pretty awesome bleach blonde flatop/mohawk combo. In all seriousness, the man can flat out play soccer. He's strong, is starting to become a better finisher, and is beginning to add a creative element to his game.
As the video below shows, Zardes knows when to take the space in front of him, drive at the heart of the defense, and slip in an inch-perfect through ball. To be fair, the below goal occurs against Panama's B-team and has Clint Dempsey on the finishing end, but it's arguably the best team goal the U.S. have scored since the World Cup ended. And Zardes was at the heart of it.
3.) Center Mids: During the Galaxy's recent reign at the top of the table, the partnership between Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas was crucial. They were the glue that held the team together, but only the former is still around as the latter now plies his trade with the Colorado Rapids.
The loss of that partnership has really hurt Arena's side this year, as Mika Vayrynen has struggled at times to assert himself in the midfield and mesh with Juninho. The Brazilian is still one of the better center mids in the league, but Vayrynen has been hot and cold. I'll leave you to the below tweet because nothing sums this happening up better than Matt Doyle's snapshot.