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.”