The Galaxy let out a collective sigh of relief last weekend with the realization there is nothing left on their schedule but games that count in the MLS standings.
They’ve been eliminated from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and failed to advance to the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League and their international friendlies are over as well. It’s just MLS games now until the end of the regular season in late October.
And while they’re disappointed to see their Open Cup and Champions League runs end, the Galaxy players and coaching staff now know exactly what lies ahead for them the rest of the year.
“We’ll be focused,” veteran left back Todd Dunivant said Tuesday.
“We’ve set ourselves up well.”
The Galaxy’s Champions League hopes were dashed by second division Puerto Rico last Wednesday, when the Galaxy defeated the Islanders
2-1 but lost 5-3 on aggregate goals.
Then Saturday it was Real Madrid at the Rose Bowl, where a crowd of just under 90,000 watched the Galaxy take a 2-0 lead at halftime before the Spanish giants rallied for a 3-2 victory.
That game was significant in that it marked the Galaxy’s final non-MLS competition of 2010. The schedule definitely works in LA’s favor, with only five road games remaining, one of which will be played at The Home Depot Center. The road trips begin this Saturday in New York against the revamped Red Bulls and include dates in San Jose on Aug. 21, in Chicago on Sept. 4, against Chivas USA, who will be the home side on Oct. 3 and Oct. 7 in Philadelphia against the expansion Union.
The Galaxy (12-3-4) close out the regular season with back-to-back home games against Colorado on Oct. 16 and FC Dallas on Oct. 24.
Dunivant said it was difficult preparing for the various competitions, which featured six games in one 17-day period.
“It was a challenge for us,” he said. “I think we did hit a bit of a lull, whether that’s a mid-season lull or it has to do with all the tournaments I don’t know. We did hit it, and we’re still kind of breaking out of that slump.
“Our rhythm definitely got broken. There’s always going to be distractions, and we need to realize that. Hopefully we can learn from that and be stronger next year.
“That was our first real test at it this year. I think we can take these experiences and do better in the competitions next year.”
Associate Head Coach Dave Sarachan, who ran Tuesday’s practice in the absence of head coach Bruce Arena, who was honored along with the rest of the National Soccer Hall of Fame’s 2010 induction class prior to Tuesday’s U.S.-Brazil friendly in East Rutherford, N.J., said he felt the Galaxy got through their heavy summer schedule in a positive manner.
“I’ve been through this before with other teams,” he said. “The key to it all is the extent of your health within your roster. I think by and large we’ve actually come through it pretty well. There is a travel factor and there is a fatigue factor and a mental overload factor. That affects everybody … the staff, the coaches and the players.
“I’d like to think we handled it fairly well. No one complained and no one bailed out; the energy was there. The emphasis now is to put everything we have into 11 more games.”
Added veteran midfielder Eddie Lewis, “All along we’ve known what the other competitions have done to teams and their league form down the road. Hopefully as we get toward the end of the season we’ll be thankful we’ve only been able to concentrate on the league games.
“Between now and then we still have to make sure we’re in order to manage those games. We’ve had a bit of a blip in our league form recently, but we’re hoping to get back on track this weekend.”