Taking care of business
Victories have not been a problem this season for the LA Galaxy, the lone unbeaten team in MLS at 9-0-2. Respect, however, is another matter.
Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha, for example, thought the Galaxy "had luck on their side" in last Saturday's 2-0 loss to Los Angeles.
Toronto FC had just held the Galaxy to a scoreless tie on May 15 when coach Preki said he thought his team deserved better that night. The same goes for Colorado's Gary Smith, after the Rapids lost 1-0 to the Galaxy at home on May 5.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena and his players, preparing for Saturday's Western Conference clash against the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center, may not be getting the respect deserving of a team that hasn't lost a regular-season game since late last September and has allowed only two goals all season, but they insist they aren't bothered by the snub.
They simply don't pay much, if any, attention to the naysayers and just go about their business.
"It's about getting the job done, and we've been getting the job done so far," said goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who has a 0.20 goals-against average and eight shutouts, both league highs. "We take each game one step at a time. Maybe (opponents) think they're the better team, but at the end of the day three points is the most important thing.
"That's what we play for."
The Galaxy's Tristan Bowen, who scored his first career MLS goal last Saturday in Columbus, said he can't understand some of the negative talk he has heard about the Galaxy.
"I don't know why," he said. "For us, I don't think it matters. Every game we go out and expect to win, and the important thing is we believe we can win. Teams can continue to talk about us lightly, and we'll take it."
Mike Magee said the lack of league-wide respect is no cause for concern.
"The best part about this team is we don't give a (bleep)," he said with a grin. "I don't think anyone really reads into anything or looks into anything. All these people making comments about us not playing well or the way they want us to play, we don't care. We play for each other.
"We have 24 guys coming in here every day and fighting for spots. We know what we have."
Veteran midfielder Clint Mathis echoed those sentiments. In fact, the skepticism can help in a way.
"It's easier that way and takes the pressure off," he said. "If we're going to continue to be undefeated underdogs, then no problem. We just have to concentrate on our team and not worry about what's going on on the outside. Don't deal with what people are saying, just go in and stay organized and keep doing what we're doing. Just keep getting the three points. I'll take that any day."
Second-year defender Omar Gonzalez, last year's MLS Rookie of the Year, said the negativity he has heard directed at the Galaxy is something that's been going on for quite a while. He said he's slowly gotten used to it, but that doesn't mean he doesn't ignore it.
"We always get bashed by the media about how we don't play well or (stuff) like that," he said. "All that matters is the score and winning. That's all that matters. I don't really care what anybody else says."
Defender Todd Dunivant said the criticism may be an offshoot of a perceived East Coast bias, but he also said there is no denying the numbers so far this season.
"You can't argue with the stats," he said. "They are what they are."
Ricketts said he learned a long time ago to ignore what outsiders say.
"I'm thick-skinned," he said. "If you get caught up in what people say, you'll be an angry man. You just play football and don't listen."