Galaxy have a lot to play for in season finale

Buddle wants the Golden Boot, but Shield takes precedent

Edson Buddle goal celebration vs SJ

Photo Credit: 
German Alegria

CARSON, Calif. – There definitely has been
no shortage of excitement with the LA Galaxy this season.

It’s come down to the final
weekend of the MLS regular season with nothing settled on two major fronts.
First is the race for the Supporters’ Shield, which rewards home field
advantage throughout the playoffs to the team with the best regular-season
record. The Galaxy are 17-7-5 for 56 points, with Real Salt Lake right behind at 15-4-10 for 55
points.

Real Salt
Lake plays at Colorado on Saturday night while the Galaxy
host FC Dallas on Sunday at The Home Depot Center.

A race that is just as tight
is the battle for the Budweiser Golden Boot, which goes to the league’s top
goal scorer. The Galaxy’s Edson Buddle is tied with San
Jose’s Chris Wondolowski with 17 goals, thanks to Wondolowski’s hat
trick off the bench in Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Chivas USA.
Wondolowski, who has scored San Jose’s last nine
goals, and the Earthquakes close the regular season on Saturday at Kansas City.

“I guess we’re drama queens
a little bit,” the Galaxy’s Todd Dunivant said. “It’s coming down to the last
weekend. It is what it is, and playoffs are starting a week early for us this
year.”

Buddle, who said he did not
know Wondolowski – “I do now,” he joked – admitted he is not surprised the
scoring race has come down to the final weekend. Last year’s Golden Boot
competition also was close, with FC Dallas’ Jeff Cunningham edging Colorado’s Conor Casey
17-16.

“I think every year it’s
close with the goal scoring,” Buddle said.

“I didn’t expect anything
different this year. I didn’t expect to come in and be so far ahead or be the
top scorer this year.

“I’ve never won it before.
It’s something I’d like to accomplish.”

As much as Galaxy head coach
Bruce Arena would like for that to happen, he and the team have their priorities
in order.

“I think the Supporters’
Shield takes precedent over any individual accolades, not that we wouldn’t want
Edson to win it for sure, but that takes precedent,” Arena said. “I think it’s
great that you can have the top goal scorer in the league, but the goals have
to be about the team and not the individual.

“Having said that I hope
he’s able to finish out on top.”

The Galaxy’s Sean Franklin
said players really haven’t talked to Buddle much about what is at stake on an
individual level this weekend. It’s more about what the team needs to
accomplish.

“It would be a nice reward
for Edson. He’s had a good year, all year,” Franklin said. “But our main focus is playing
better, getting better and winning this weekend. Whether he scores or not he
wants the team to do well and win.

“If he scores that’s good
for us. If he doesn’t and someone else does, that’s good for us, too.”

Said Dunivant about Buddle’s
pursuit, “At the end of the day, it’s not the biggest thing in the world. But
everyone is pulling for Edson. It gives him something to do this weekend.”

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