Saturday. 4pm. The soccer showdown to end all soccer showdowns. It’s just about time for the MLS Cup, and the juggernaut Philadelphia Union face off against LAFC for the chance to take home their first cup in team history. While the Union are an incredibly talented team, and arguably the best defensive side in the history of Major League Soccer, LAFC are skilled themselves, enough to hold the top seed and the home field advantage in the playoffs. It’s strength against strength, skill against skill, and it won’t be an easy task for either of these teams to lock down a championship. Here’s how the Union stack up in the biggest game of the club’s history.
So, who are the big performers for each side? Well, we have a good idea for the Union. Andre Blake is the Goaltender of the year, Daniel Gazdag is the best goal scorer, and there are multiple defenders (see Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes) who are absolutely shut down. It’s a stout side, and has every chance to knock off LAFC, but their squad is set up very well too. They have these two guys you might have heard of if you’re a big soccer fan, some dudes named Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini. Chiellini has 8 international goals to his name as an Italian defenseman, and Bale is one of, if not the, greatest Welsh footballer of ALL TIME. Now Bale doesn’t have much left in the tank, and Chiellini is past his prime as well, but a strong attack is still on the pitch for LAFC, led by Carlos Vela, the best Right Winger in MLS this season.
LA has the star power, Philly has the defense, and both are in great form right now. You may ask, “what is the difference maker in this game, then?” I’m glad you asked! He stands 6’4”, a Jamaican brick wall in between the frame of the goal. Andre Blake is the great equalizer, or rather he’s the great advantage. Blake has been incredible this year, one of the best seasons as a keeper in MLS history, and soccer, much like pretty much every sport ever, is pretty difficult when you can’t score. Andre Blake makes that possibility a reality more often than any player in MLS, and it makes the Union infinitely more dangerous in the MLS Cup. It’ll still be a tall task to go into Los Angeles and come out with a win, but championships are never easy. Let’s Doop.