CARSON, Calif. — For the LA Galaxy, every game is a big game. That’s just the way it goes being reigning champions and having marquee stars.
“One thing for us, and it’s kind of a blessing and a curse, is that every game we play is generally a really big deal for the other team,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “When we’re playing on the road, it’s probably their biggest-selling game of the year, they get requested tickets the most, it’s something they circle on their calendar.”
Indeed, Saturday’s match at Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City will be no different. Sporting announced on Tuesday that the match against the Galaxy is already sold out. It will also be on national television (4 pm ET/1pm PT, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, LIVE CHAT on lagalaxy.com).
Playing under that kind of pressure is nothing new to the Galaxy. After all, nearly every game LA played down the stretch in 2011 was a big game, whether it was a regular-season battle for the Supporters’ Shield, a Champions League group game or an MLS Cup Playoffs game. The Galaxy had no margin for error, and they certainly came through it all well.
But there is added pressure this week. The Galaxy have not started off the season well, earning just one win against two losses from three games. Last week, they turned in an especially poor performance in a 3-1 home loss to New England.
HIGHLIGHTS: LA 1, NE 3
“Every year you start off and things are a little bit rusty,” Dunivant said. “We didn’t start off last year well, either. We need to correct those things and get better, and we will.”
This year, as opposed to 2011, the Galaxy have the luxury of working on those corrections. In 2011, they had a loaded schedule, playing about every four days down the stretch. At one point, they played nine games in a 30-day span. It gave them little time to actually train.
But after being eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League last month, the Galaxy have the opportunity to recover mentally and physically. They will play just four games in April — all on Saturdays — and they have just three midweek matches from now until July.
“It’s that kind of thing that can be a big thing during the season because you’re given the chance to make adjustments,” Dunivant said. “Over the course of a season, you can improve those things.”
Those things will need to be improved upon against Sporting KC, who are perfect through their first four matches. But Dunivant feels the Galaxy are up to the task.
“It’s not life or death at this point,” Dunivant said. “I think this team has good focus and doesn’t need a life-or-death situation to play well.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.