The regional finals are set for the Major League Soccer Cup and while the seedings would indicate that there were some upsets in the tournament to get us here, many of the big names and the big teams have found themselves one of the last four standing.

The New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution are in the Eastern Conference Final. The Western Conference Final is comprised of familiar powerhouses, the LA Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders.

People believe that the MLS is a league that is never going to catch on in America. If there was ever a collection of games that could change America’s perception of the sport, they are these games taking place on Nov. 23.

These games have the makings to be something extraordinary. In one game, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, two of America’s most prolific soccer players are squaring off in the West, with only one able to make it on to the Finals.

To make the stakes even higher, this is Donovan’s swan song in the MLS. For one of the men who has made the MLS and American soccer into what it is today, he will be on a mission to end on a high note.

In the Galaxy’s semi-final game against Real Salt Lake, in which Donovan scored a hat trick, is any indication, he might be well on his way to not only making the Finals, but winning them as well.

On the other side of the League, another hugely influential player to the MLS appears to be participating in his last MLS Cup, at least wearing a Red Bulls uniform. While it isn’t confirmed that Thierry Henry is leaving New York at the end of the season, it has been widely speculated that that will be the case.

This has put a new spring into the steps of the Red Bulls’ players. New York swept the Revolution in regular season play, but both were competitive matchups. In both of the games, the Revolution were able to keep Henry off the board.

However, the Red Bulls’ sensational striker (and MLS Golden Boot winner) Bradley Wright-Phillips was able to find the back of the net on the 2-1 win on Aug. 2.

None of the teams left in contention should be counted out. The Red Bulls have fought all the way from the knockout round to make it to the Conference Finals, and with Henry and Wright-Phillips leading the charge, the Red Bulls could make it three for three in games against the Revolution.

However, nothing in sports is more difficult than beating a team three times in the same season. With Lee Nguyen of the Revloution hitting his stride, especially in their semi-final thrashing of the Columbus Crew, this is not a team to be taken lightly.

Also, the Red Bulls haven’t played against a Revolution team with Jermaine Jones. The Revolution has been a new team since the signing of Jones where as a result of his signing, they have been unbeaten in their last seven games.

On top of that, Henry has a clause in his contract saying that he does not have to play on turf fields. With the Conference Finals going to Gillette Stadium, will Henry make the trip to play on the turf field? This would be a huge factor determining if the Red Bulls can pull off the victory.

On the West, arguably the stronger of the two conferences, it’s all on the table and it’s anyone’s game to lose.

Seattle and LA fought competitively all season. At the end of the regular season, the two played in a series of sorts with back to back alternating location games. In LA, the game ended deadlocked at 2-2. In Seattle, the Sounders came out on top 2-0.

While they were competitive in the regular season, they are coming off of very different semi-final second legs. For LA, they demolished Real Salt Lake 5-0 in the second leg and will be certainly going into the first leg, at home, on a high.

For Seattle, their second leg was a tame 0-0 affair against FC Dallas, which was intended to give them the win on aggregate. With the first leg taking place on LA, this could be a tough start for Seattle.

My predictions for the rest of the MLS Cup: New York and LA make it through to the finals where LA wins 2-1 in the finals.

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--- Senior | Executive Editor --- Journalism/Film, TV & New Media

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