Galaxy look to continue unbeaten start

Eight games into 2010, Galaxy continue to play well but work remains

Buddle, Juninho goal celebration

Photo Credit: 
Robert Mora

The LA Galaxy have been
drawing rave reviews for their impressive play this season, but it's far too
early to label them the odds-on favorites to win this year's MLS Cup.

Head coach Bruce Arena said
such talk is far too premature, despite the fact the Galaxy (7-0-1) already are
nine points clear of their closest pursuers in the Western Conference, lead the
league in goals scored (15) and have allowed a league-low two goals.

"What's typical of the
media and the press is to overreact to a team being real good or real
bad," he said. "The truth of the matter is the entire league is only
eight games in, and there's no clear points to be made yet. Nobody is real good
or real bad yet; you kind of conclude that after 30 games, not after eight
games.

"Look back to last year
and see where everyone was after eight games. I would imagine not everything
was said and done. I would think you look at the first eight games of 2009,
then look at the end of the year, and you'd be kind of surprised by what you
saw."

Fair enough.

The MLS standings at this
point in 2009 revealed Chivas USA
was 7-1-1 and leading the West by eight points over Seattle
(4-2-2), with Houston and Colorado tied for third at 3-2-2. The Galaxy
was sixth with a 1-1-6 record for nine points. The East was a close affair with
first-place D.C. United (3-1-5) and fourth-place Kansas City (3-4-2) separated
by just three points.

United and Toronto, in second place at the time, did not
make the playoffs. Neither did Kansas
City. Real Salt Lake, tied for third in the West,
barely qualified for postseason and defeated the Galaxy on penalties at last
November's MLS Cup in Seattle.

Arena may be downplaying his
club's fast start, but he begrudgingly admitted he has been impressed.

"With the wins,"
he said. "There's often times where you play well and don't get a result,
and we're getting results. That's what impresses me the most.

"That's a pretty good
ratio, seven (victories) out of eight games."

Arena also lauded the play of
Bryan Jordan, who has been asked to play the new position of right back; A.J.
DeLaGarza for his ability to play anywhere on the back line; Chris Birchall,
Juninho and rookie Michael Stephens in the midfield and the combination of
Edson Buddle (league-high nine goals) and Landon Donovan (league-high nine
assists).

Now, however, the Galaxy
will have to make do without the latter pair, who leave on Sunday for U.S.
national team training camp. Their potentially lengthy absences could take some
of the luster off what has been an impressive eight weeks.

"How can this team
adjust to that and continue to play well?" Chris Klein said. "I think
that's a big challenge for us. When we think how well we've done, we can always
put it in perspective.

"We don't want to put
the cart before the horse. What's important for us is to play well, which we
are, and continue getting better. The good thing about the team and the group
we have is we realize we haven't played really, really well yet. Don't take it
wrong, we've played well enough to win games but we think we know there's
certain things we can do to get better.

"That's the challenge
for us right now."

Arena was even more direct.

"Don't start making
reservations for Toronto,"
he said, referring to the site of the next MLS Cup. "That's the truth.
We're only eight games in. You think the Red Sox aren't going to win any games?
You know there's quality there, and they're probably going to be in the
playoffs.

"Just let things play
themselves out a little longer."