- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 12, 2005

Landon Donovan and Taylor Twellman take the top billing in the 10th Major League Soccer championship game tomorrow, held at the sold-out home of FC Dallas, Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. The match, which pits the Los Angeles Galaxy against the New England Revolution, is a repeat of the 2002 final, in which the Galaxy downed the Revolution 1-0 before 61,316 at Foxborough, Mass.

Donovan, who almost single-handedly rescued the Galaxy’s season with his play in the postseason, is considered by many to be America’s most talented player to date. The California native has been involved in five of the Galaxy’s six playoff goals, scoring four and setting up one and becoming the all-time leading scorer in the postseason. The multifaceted and creative striker is also the jewel in Bruce Arena’s World Cup team.

Twellman, who recently scored his first goal for the U.S. team, has no trouble finding the net for the Revolution. The former Maryland star led the league with 17 goals and was named the league’s MVP on Thursday.

“I didn’t think I had a shot at this — all I want to do is win on Sunday,” Twellman said after receiving the reward.

Unlike Donovan, who not only scores but creates goals, Twellman is a strong target player, a traditional center forward in the Alan Shearer mold.

Both players cut their professional teeth playing in Germany. Twellman left the Terrapins after his second season for German power 1860 Munich. He played for the reserve team for two seasons before joining the Revolution in 2002.

When he was just 16, Donovan signed with Bayer Leverkusen, but after two seasons without seeing any first-team play in Germany, he was loaned back to MLS. Donovan was allocated to the San Jose Earthquakes and became an instant star, leading San Jose to two titles (2001 and 2003) in four seasons.

In January, he left MLS to join Leverkusen’s first team, but following just nine games overseas, he rejoined MLS as the league’s highest-paid player, only this time with the Galaxy, much to the anger of the San Jose fans. In 109 regular-season games, Donovan has 44 goals and 39 assists.

Twellman’s conversion rate of 64 goals in 98 games is the best by a player since he joined the league. But he had no luck when he was on the Revolution team that lost to the Galaxy in the 2002 MLS Cup.

“It was three years ago, so a lot’s changed,” Twellman said this week. “I don’t know if I’d necessarily agree with the roles being reversed. I don’t think they’re necessarily an underdog and we’re necessarily a favorite.”

The Galaxy players are aware that the Revolution are seeking payback.

“I know a lot of those guys were on the field in New England when they lost to L.A. a couple of years back,” Donovan said. “So I know they’re going to take motivation in that.”

If he does well tomorrow, Donovan may save coach Steve Sampson’s job.

Despite coming in as the lowest seed in the West, the Galaxy (13-13-6, 45 points) are the league’s hottest draw, pulling in an average of 24,204 for their home games at the soccer-specific Home Depot Center. New England (17-7-8, 59 points) led the East all year but drew only an average of 12,525 — third lowest in the league — to Gillette Stadium.

Highland games — World Cup-bound United States plays Scotland in a friendly at Glasgow today. Arena has selected a roster combined of overseas players and MLS players, including D.C. United’s Ben Olsen, Brian Carroll and Santino Quaranta. Arena also has invited Chicago Fire rookie Chris Rolfe to the game. The last time the U.S. team played in Scotland was in 1952 for a 6-0 loss. The game will be shown live on Fox Soccer Channel at 11 a.m. Next up for the Americans is a match against Norway at Home Depot Center on Jan. 29.

Cup surprises — The English F.A. Cup, which is open to all teams, continues to produce magic. Tiny Chasetown managed to hold Oldham of League One to a 1-1 tie Sunday. Chasetown plays in the Midland Alliance, six divisions and 133 places lower than Oldham. Oldham saved itself from an embarrassment when 41-year-old David Eyers tied the game. The rematch is Wednesday. And talking of older players, 39-year-old Teddy Sheringham scored the game-winner in West Ham’s 1-0 win over West Bromwich last week.

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