Final Record: 18-7-5, 59 pts. (First, Western Conference)
The LA Galaxy won their first Supporters’ Shield since the 2002 season after finishing with a league-best 18-7-5 regular season record for 59 points. However, after dispatching the Seattle Sounders FC in their Western Conference Semifinal Series, LA was upset by FC Dallas in the Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center.
The Galaxy were undoubtedly the best team in MLS over the first half of the season, opening the year with an 11-game unbeaten run that saw them take 29 of a possible 33 points and outscore their opponents 20-3. Edson Buddle was the catalyst of that run, scoring nine of the club’s first 10 goals en route to a career-high 17. His early season form caught the eye of U.S. National Team head coach Bob Bradley, who named Buddle in his squad for the summer’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa, along with Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, who had a goal and nine assists, compared to Buddle’s nine goals and two assists, in nine games before heading to South Africa.
With Buddle and Donovan away, Tristan Bowen and Jovan Kirovski stepped forward to lead the LA attack while the defense continued their astonishing improvement that began a year earlier. Eventual MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts kept seven clean sheets in the club’s first 10 games, while Josh Saunders kept an eighth as the Galaxy threatened to shatter the MLS record for fewest goals allowed in league history. Playing in front of them, Omar Gonzalez continued to blossom into one of the top young defenders in MLS, earning a spot on the league’s Best XI and being named the Galaxy’s Defender of the Year, as well as a finalist for the MLS Defender of the Year award.
A 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake in their final game before June’s two-week World Cup break snapped the club’s record start to the season but could not dampen the excitement that the Galaxy’s stunning first half of the season had generated.
Early July saw the Galaxy welcome Buddle and Donovan, with the pair combining for the club’s first goal just 19 minutes into a comprehensive 3-1 win over Seattle in front of a capacity crowd in Carson. However, the club struggled over the next two months, winning just two of their eight league matches while being eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League.
With Real Salt Lake closing in on LA’s position at the top of the Western Conference, the Galaxy received a welcome boost in mid-September with the return of David Beckham, who had been out since March with an Achilles injury. His return, combined with more timely goal scoring from Buddle and Donovan helped the Galaxy win five of their final seven regular season games and claim their first Supporters’ Shield in eight years with a 2-1 win over FC Dallas on the final day of the season.
Despite taking the Supporters’ Shield, the Galaxy were projected by many as underdogs in their Western Conference Semifinal Series against Seattle, who had been the best team in MLS over the second half of the year. However, an Edson Buddle wonder goal gave LA a 1-0 road win in the first leg at Qwest Field, while David Beckham set up a pair of goals a week later at The Home Depot Center as the Galaxy won 2-1 to take the series 3-1 on aggregate and set up a date with FC Dallas in the Western Conference Championship.
However, LA’s amazing run would end there as Bruce Arena’s side could not find a way past Kevin Hartman in the Dallas goal while David Ferreira, George John and Marvin Chavez each scored to give the visitors a 3-0 win and end the Galaxy’s season one step shy of a return to MLS Cup.