â†µSay what you want about the MLS product, and over the years everyone has said everything they've wanted about the MLS product, but the league could not have asked for a more fortuitous championship matchup. Look, let's be honest, the L.A. Galaxy could be playing a rag-tag bunch of kung-fu-fighting street performers and MLS would be happy with the match-up. Come to think of it, that'd be a pretty awesome thing to watch: â†µâ†µ
â†µIf you plan to watch the MLS Cup on Sunday night, or want to click over to soccer during timeouts of the Sunday Night Football game, here are a few things you should look for.
â†µLandon Donovan is already the best player in America, and Sunday night he has the opportunity to take home his fourth MLS Cup and further cement his legacy as one of the greats in the history of the sport in this country. Donovan was named MLS MVP for the first time in his career this week and with his breakout performance in the Confederations Cup for the United States, the perception that Donovan is not a big-game performer has almost completely disappeared. The hopes of American soccer in 2010 rest on Donovan's legs, and so too do the chances of L.A. taking home another MLS Cup. â†µ
â†µDavid Beckham can ride off into the AC Milan sunset a conquering hero if the Galaxy win on Sunday night. The season with the Galaxy started rather tumultuously for Becks after Grant Wahl's book put the soccer world on its head with revelations that, essentially, Beckham's handlers ran the franchise into the ground and Landon Donovan thought Becks gave up on the team, the league and the idea of building something in America. â†µâ†µ
â†µIt would have been easy for the English superstar to pack it in and move on. But much like he's done throughout his career, Beckham stuck it out in America, won over the fans who booed him (and wanted to fight him) at the start of the season and now is saying all the right things. â†µâ†µ
â†µFrom the BBC: â†µâ†µ
â†µâ‡¥The 34-year-old England midfielder is back in favour with Galaxy fans after leading his side to Sunday's MLS Cup final against Real Salt Lake. â†µâ‡¥â†µThat sounds quite different from the guy who extended his loan to Milan, missing the first half of the MLS season while publicly admitting he wanted to leave the Galaxy and stay with Milan permanently just nine months ago. Alas, all's well that ends well, and a championship for L.A. would make wearing that Beckham Herbalife jersey quite cool again. â†µ
â†µâ‡¥"No, not at all, never," Beckham replied when asked if he had considered returning to Europe permanently. â†µâ‡¥â†µâ‡¥
â†µâ‡¥"I always committed myself to the MLS, the Galaxy owner and the franchise. I always said I would see it through." â†µâ‡¥â†µ
â†µ• Speaking of cool, can this help make soccer cool in America, once and for all? Sure the ratings are going to get crushed by football, or the 5 a.m. airing of Fresh Prince, but Donovan and Beckham teaming up to win a championship is exactly what the MLS needs heading in to the build up for the World Cup. Like it or not, soccer is going to be cool again in 203 days, so you might as well get used to it. Add in the fact that the U.S. is making hard push at either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup and Sunday's match is part of a concerted effort to win America's heart with soccer. Heck, even Bill Simmons is getting behind American soccer, interviewing Landon Donovan on his podcast and showing up in Seattle to talk about the match. The fact that the game is on ESPN is purely coincidental, I'm sure. Regardless, the Sports Guy decided American soccer is cool, which can only help the sport. â†µâ†µ
â†µ• Last, could this be a good match? Real Salt Lake snuck into the playoffs, but have put things together on their way to the finals and could legitimately win this match. They are, after all, Eastern Conference Champions (despite finishing fifth in the West – gotta love screwy SEC-tournament style seeding). According to the MLSnet.com breakdowns, fans think the match will be very tight, giving strong advantage to Real Salt Lake in goal with Nick Rimando showing that he's the best goalkeeper in the playoffs. Add in the likes of Robbie Findley and Kyle Beckerman -- who has played quite well at times for the USMNT this year -- and it could be a solid (and fun) match to watch at 8:30 p.m. ET. If so inclined, you can do so on ESPN -- or ESPN360 if your TV is tuned to a decidedly more American brand of football that evening. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.