CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy challenged themselves last week during one of the busier periods of their schedule.
Their goal was to take the full nine points from a span of three-games in seven-days against three Western Conference rivals, and they did that. A workman-like 1-0 home win over Portland on June 17 got the run started before they hit the road to claim an impressive come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Real Salt Lake on June 20. LA rounded out the week and got back some of their swagger with their most impressive performance of the season, a 3-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center.
Now, however, their goal has been scaled back considerably. Rather than having to focus on three games, Bruce Arena’s squad have their sights set on just one opponent.
“Focus on the next game, just take them one game at a time,” defender A.J. DeLaGarza said after training Tuesday as the Galaxy prepared to take on MLS-leading San Jose on Saturday at Stanford Stadium (7 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive). “We still have half of the season left.”
The Galaxy, once wallowing at the bottom of the Western Conference, now are in fifth place in the West and are one of the hottest teams in MLS. The challenge now is to sustain that run, but it’s one the Galaxy are eager to meet. Coaches and players say this is a far different Galaxy team than the one that once struggled to find answers for its disappointing play for much of the season.
“It’s always tough to do really well for an extended period of time,” DeLaGarza said. “You saw Seattle start off the season very well and kind of slipped up. Salt Lake has lost two in a row. Kansas City started off 7-0 and just lost a big game in Philly.
“You’re not going to win every single game, but you have to go out and fight and play like you can win every game. If any team can do it, I think we have the ability to put on a good run.”
Goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who turned in his second shutout in three games with the win over Vancouver, said the task is simple for the Galaxy.
“It’s going to take more work,” he said. “We can’t just rest on winning three games. Look at last year and how many games we won and continued to work hard. We have to do those same things to get to that point.
“You can’t go and look at the standings. Instead, you just put your head down, take it one game at a time and work at it. You take it day by day out here in training and get better and move forward from there.”
Mike Magee, who scored in his second consecutive game against the Whitecaps, agreed with DeLaGarza and Saunders that the Galaxy must take a simple approach in the weeks ahead.
“Luckily we don’t have three games this week, so we can put in a good week of practice,” he said. “Obviously it’s hard to win every game, but I think in the last year we showed we could compete in every game we played, no matter who we were playing.
“I think the new goal is just keep playing and fighting and battle the way we did last week.”