Galaxy look to avoid a letdown against United
CARSON, Calif. – There are a number of MLS games
which are among the most anticipated of the season. Games between rivals always
have an added element, as do battles such as last weekend’s LA Galaxy-Columbus
Crew clash at The Home Depot Center. Featuring two of the top teams in MLS and
with the league’s best record on the line, the intensity levels were high for
both sides throughout the 90 minutes with the Galaxy coming out on top 3-1. Equally
as important as the result, the Galaxy produced one of their best performances in
On the flip side of that
equation are games like Saturday’s between the Galaxy, with their league-best
47 points and D.C. United, who are rooted to the bottom of the Eastern
Conference with just five wins and 18 points on the season. On paper it is a
clear mismatch and despite the two teams’ illustrious histories, definitely
does not rank among the league’s marquee matchups this season. But don’t think
the Galaxy are overlooking D.C. United one bit.
Galaxy coaches and players
are preparing for what they consider to be a formidable opponent that is coming
off a 1-0 victory at Toronto FC and has lost just once in its last four visits
to Southern California. They expect nothing
but the best from their Eastern Conference rivals and know that, as far as the
Galaxy are concerned, a letdown is not an option.
“We have a harder time with
teams down in the standings than teams at the top of the standings,” head coach
Bruce Arena said Thursday. “If we don’t play well and hard for 90 minutes,
we’ll lose the game.
“I think if anybody knows
that it’s our team. Hopefully we’ve learned from previous letdowns.”
Arena said it has been easy
to prepare for this game because of its implications. The Galaxy (14-5-5)
remain in the thick of the race for not only the top seed in the Western
Conference for the upcoming playoffs, but the Supporters' Shield as well, which
goes to the team with the best record in MLS.
“There’s no magic potion to
put together,” Arena said. “They understand how important these games are.”
Edson Buddle, who scored his
league-leading 14th goal against the Crew, said it’s important the Galaxy puts
last Saturday’s impressive effort behind them.
“We just want to forget
about the last game and move forward with the same attitude,” he said. “It’s
happened in the past, where you have a good game one week and then the next
one, you’re not so hot. You don’t want to take D.C. for granted.”
David Beckham, who made his
first appearance of the season last Saturday after missing almost six months
because of a torn left Achilles tendon, said he is confident the Galaxy won’t
be overlooking United, which is 2-5-0 in their last seven league games.
“That’s what you have to be
careful of,” he said. “If you are inexperienced as a team and you take games
lightly, there’s upsets. We know D.C. got a good result the last game in Toronto, and they’ll be
confident with that.
“Every team that comes here
wants to beat us and wants to put on a good show. We know the game on Saturday
is going to be a tough one and we have to be prepared for that.”
Central defender Omar Gonzalez said he’s trying to ignore any
thoughts of a possible letdown.
“I try not to think about
that,” he said. “They aren’t doing very well, but the way they’re thinking
right now is they don’t want to be the worst team in the league. They’re going
to come out on fire.
“Each game matters now, and
we have to start building to the way we were playing at the start of the season
and end it the same way.”
Landon Donovan said he
considers a game like Saturday’s to be particularly challenging.
“I actually enjoy it,” he
said. “The Columbus
game we knew we were going to be up for. The question now is, are we going to
be up for this game?
“It’s smashed between the Columbus game and the New York game next week. This, for me, is a
very important game. We can talk about it all we want, but if guys don’t
realize it on their own, we could struggle.”