CARSON, Calif. – Few games this season, if any, have matched the history and the importance of the Galaxy’s matchup against the Columbus Crew on Saturday at The Home Depot Center.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said it simply: “The last two years the two teams in the league who have accumulated the most points are the two teams that are playing on Saturday.”
Not only do the Galaxy and Crew have recent history to live up to, they have a potential championship at stake. Each team has 44 points on the season as the race for the Supporters' Shield has tightened considerably over the summer.
While the season still has seven weeks remaining, Saturday’s game could go a long way in determining the Supporters' Shield winner.
“The team who is successful this week certainly has the edge in that,” Arena said.
The Galaxy are coming off a 1-1 draw in Chicago which improved their record to 13-5-5. Columbus’ 1-0 victory in DC gave them an identical 13-5-5 record. Only goal differential separates the Galaxy (plus-16) from the Crew (plus-12).
Columbus, however, are in a bit of a different spot than the Galaxy in the standings. New York trail Columbus by seven points in the Eastern Conference, which has proven to be much more of a two-horse race than the Western Conference.
That’s where the Galaxy hold a slim edge over Real Salt Lake (43), who could overtake both LA and Columbus in the Supporters' Shield race on Thursday night with a win on the road in Seattle. Also not far behind are FC Dallas (40), perhaps the league’s hottest team since May.
“It’s nice to be in a game that means something,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “Not that these games we’ve played in haven’t meant anything, but I think it’s definitely an added incentive and something we’re definitely looking forward to.”
The Galaxy will play six of their remaining seven games at The Home Depot Center, with only an Oct. 7 match at Philadelphia looming on LA’s travel itinerary (an Oct. 3 game against Chivas USA is technically an away game).
But no matter the circumstances, no matter the opponent, Galaxy players said they will be up for the game.
“Every single game is important for us,” defender Omar Gonzalez said. “A win or loss could be the difference between getting the Supporters' Shield and home-field advantage, so this game is always important and we’re going to be ready to play.”