CARSON, Calif. — Sixty. That’s the number Galaxy players have in mind as they continue into the final third of the MLS regular season.
They’re not talking about a Southern California freeway, but rather the number of points they think they’ll need to not only win the Western Conference but the Supporters Shield, which goes to the team with the best regular season record and clinches home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena hasn’t mapped out what it would take to reach those goals – “I don’t know how you would do that,” he said -- but he agreed 60 points makes sense.
“I don’t think you need to be a genius to figure that out,” he said.
“We just want to be positioned to not only win the West but also for the Supporters Shield. We don’t win these games, we’re not going to be in position to win those things.”
A quick look at the upcoming schedule, starting with Saturday’s matchup against Kansas City at The Home Depot Center, indicates it is decidedly in the Galaxy’s favor. Of their remaining nine regular season games, only two – Chicago on Sept. 4 and Philadelphia on Oct. 7 – will be played away from home. The other seven will all be played at The Home Depot Center with Columbus (on Sept. 11), D.C. United (on Sept. 18), the New York Red Bulls on (Sept. 24), Chivas USA (on Oct. 3 in which the Galaxy will be the visitors), Colorado (on Oct. 16) and FC Dallas (on Oct. 24) to close out the regular season.
The Galaxy (13-4-4, 43 points) currently lead the West by four points over Real Salt Lake (11-4-6, 39 points), whose nine remaining games are split between four home games and five away. FC Dallas (9-2-9, 36) has an equal number of home and away games (five each), although they close the season with two difficult games on the road (at Real Salt Lake on Oct. 16 and at Los Angeles eight days later).
The Galaxy’s chief Eastern rival for the league’s best record, Columbus (12-5-4, 40 points), has four remaining home games and five away. The Red Bulls (10-7-4, 34 points) have five games at home and four away.
“When you look at the schedule and see the amount of games at home,” midfielder Chris Klein said, “I think that makes this game (against Kansas City) much more important to get started, to get that confidence that we can’t be beaten at home.
“The time is now for us to start establishing The Home Depot Center as a place no team wants to come and play.”
The Galaxy are 6-1-2 at home this season, their lone loss coming in a 3-2 setback to the Chicago Fire on Aug. 1. That game also is the last time the Galaxy have played a regular-season game at home.
“Yeah, it’s been a while,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “It’s always good to get back home.”
Real Salt Lake owns the league’s best home record at 8-0-3, followed by Columbus (9-2-0), the Galaxy (6-1-2) and FC Dallas (6-1-3). New York is 6-3-1 at home this season.
Klein said the goal is simple for the Galaxy.
“I think if we take care of our business down the stretch, we’re going to win the West, and hopefully the Supporters Shield,” he said. “But now we’re seeing teams starting to play very well … Columbus, Salt Lake, New York and Dallas. We have to take care of business; we did it in the first part of the season and put ourselves in this position, and now we have to keep going.”
Added Edson Buddle, who continues to lead MLS in goals scored, “Bruce (Arena) makes every game seem like a final and he wants to win them all. We have to start out well this weekend. You want to get the screws a little tighter just before going to the playoffs. You just want to get things right.”