Battle of the Unbeatens
It will be quite a meeting
of the minds, so to speak, when the LA Galaxy take on the Columbus Crew on
Saturday at Columbus Crew Stadium.
It's difficult to argue that
this perhaps is the most-anticipated match of the young MLS season. The Galaxy
are a league-best 8-0-2 for 26 points and are 10 points ahead of their closest
pursuers in the Western Conference. The Crew has been impressive in their own
right with a 6-0-2 record for 20 points and are five points clear atop the
The Galaxy has had its share
of problems in Columbus in the past -- an all-time franchise record of 2-8-5 --
and their last regular-season loss was 2-0 at Columbus last Sept. 26, but
players and coach insist their past history will have no bearing on their
chances this weekend.
"I don't think it
really matters," head coach Bruce Arena said. "If we had all of our
players for the last 15 years I'd probably be concerned about that.
"It has no consequence
to this group of players. I don't think it factors in at all."
There is no disputing,
however, that Columbus Crew Stadium has been long regarded as one of the
toughest venues for visiting MLS teams. Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein
attributed the Crew's long-running success at home to their bruising style of
"They work hard,"
he said. "They have a group that physically beats you up over 90 minutes.
They can wear you down and can be very effective in their style of play and in
what they do. We have to match that and continue to do the things we have been
doing to this point in the season.
"They have quality,
guys that can put the ball in the back of the net. They have guys that can
battle and they're always very organized defensively. They also have good
goalkeeping. That's the recipe of a good team."
The Galaxy's recipe has
worked exceptionally well. Last Thursday's 1-0 victory over FC Dallas stretched
their unbeaten streak to 10 games to start the season and 13 regular-season
games overall dating back to late 2009. They are 10-0-3 in those games and have
accumulated 33 of a possible 39 points. Los
Angeles also has shut out 11 of those 13 opponents and
have not trailed in any of those matches.
This also marks the fifth
unbeaten streak of 10 games or more in club history and the second-longest in
the history of the franchise. Only a 15-game unbeaten streak from Sept. 7, 1997
to May 17, 1998 is longer.
The Crew, by the way, hold
the longest unbeaten streak in MLS history at 19 games from July 2004 to April
Midfielder Eddie Lewis, who
returned to action in Sunday's friendly against Boca Juniors, said Saturday's
game isn't one the Galaxy have necessarily been pointing to -- "Every game
is an opportunity for three points," he said -- but he also didn't deny
the fact the two remaining unbeaten teams going head to head brings some
additional spice to the matchup. But he was also pleased to see the Galaxy
aren't placing any more significance on Saturday's game than any others to this
point in the season.
"We've done a real good
job of taking it one game at a time," he said.
Arena also downplayed any
added incentive to the match.
challenging game for us," he said. "We look forward to going to Columbus and giving it our