It was another banner year in 2014 for Germany and the Galaxy

Soccer, 2014 in review

The highs


•Germany wins fourth World Cup. Just before sending him on to the field late in July's World Cup final with Lionel Messi and Argentina, German Coach Joachim Loew called substitute Mario Goetze aside, wrapped an arm around his shoulders and whispered in his ear.

"Show the world that you are better than Messi and you can decide the World Cup," Loew said.

And Goetze did just that, scoring 23 minutes into overtime to give Germany a 1-0 victory and its fourth World Cup title while extending the agony of Messi, who remains arguably the best player in history never to win a world championship.

•Galaxy wins, Donovan leaves. Landon Donovan, who already held virtually every significant Major League Soccer record, picked up one more on his way out the door to retirement. When the Galaxy beat the New England Revolution in overtime in December's MLS Cup final, it gave Donovan his sixth league title while the Galaxy claimed a record fifth MLS championship including three in the last four seasons.

Tim Howard saves everything but U.S. hopes. Howard did something no goalkeeper in World Cup history has ever done when he made a tournament-record 16 saves against Belgium in a second-round game in Brazil. But it was the two goals that got past him in overtime that sent the U.S. home after four matches for the second time in as many World Cups.

The lows

•Suarez, Brazil both bite dust in World Cup. Uruguay's Luis Suarez had a well-deserved reputation for dining on opponents entering the World Cup, having earned suspensions for biting players in two European leagues. But he couldn't help himself in Brazil where he struck again, gnawing on the shoulder of Italy's Giorgio Chiellini to earn the stiffest suspension (nine international matches) for an on-field incident in World Cup history. Brazil also made an unexpectedly early exit from the tournament it hosted when it was blitzed by Germany, 7-1, in the semifinals. The loss was Brazil's most lopsided since 1934 and its first at home since 1975.

•Donovan cut from World Cup team. Before his triumphant exit from soccer with the Galaxy, Donovan endured a much more traumatic parting from the U.S. national team when he was cut from the World Cup roster less than a month before the tournament kicked off. Donovan, the most prolific scorer in U.S. national team history, was done in by a clash of personalities with Coach Juergen Klinsmann.

•Chivas USA disbanded. This was either a high or a low, depending on your point of view. Because when Major League Soccer assumed control of the troubled Chivas USA franchise in February, then disbanded it in October, MLS rid itself of a team that was hemorrhaging money and stifling the league's growth. Chivas had a losing record in each of its final five seasons and broke the MLS record for worst attendance by averaging just 7,062 fans in 2014. Less than a week after folding the team, MLS sold the rights to its second Southern California franchise for more than $100 million.

•FIFA. Soccer's scandal-plagued governing body stooped to a new low when its ordered a detailed, two-year probe into alleged improprieties surrounding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, then washed its hands of the whole affair when the chair of the independent ethics committee said the investigation did not find evidence that "compromised the integrity" of the bidding process.