CARSON, Calif. – Believe it or not, the LA Galaxy have stormed their way back into the Western Conference playoff race.
And while the team’s turnaround is now evident to the rest of the league, particularly after the club’s 3-0 demolition of Vancouver on Saturday, the mood was quite noticeable before then.
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“Certainly since I’ve come back [from the European Champsionships],” Galaxy forward Robbie Keane said, “you can feel that the winning mentality is back from when I first came last season.”
Once Keane returned from international duty, the final piece to the club’s turnaround seemed complete. Keane gives the Galaxy another dangerous option up top as his goal against the Whitecaps proved. But the Galaxy overall now have the look and feel of a contender, and with nine points from the club’s seven-day stretch, things have gotten much better at The Home Depot Center.
Points can only tell so much, though. While the table shows the Galaxy in fifth place – ahead of Colorado, Chivas USA, Portland and FC Dallas – the Galaxy’s recent form is as good as any other Western Conference rival, including frontrunners San Jose, who will play host to the Galaxy on Saturday (10 pm ET/7 p.m. PT, ESPN2) in the California Clasico's second edition of 2012.
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“I think we’re confident right now,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “We’re playing well and the guys are responding to what we’re doing. Every guy is making plays not only for himself but for the next guy. When you have a team with the talent we have, if you get that stuff right, there’s going to be some good nights like [Saturday].”
No matter how strong the Galaxy look, though, they won’t be able to shake the lows that the first three months of the campaign brought – eight losses with just 11 points. But the Galaxy can continue to soften the blow and the fallout from their poor start by continuing their strong play.
Much like they did in 2011, when the club tore apart league competition en route to a second consecutive Supporters' Shield and the franchise's third MLS Cup, players hope to continue riding this wave of success. With a little confidence, some goals and a few clean sheets, the Galaxy seemingly have the makings to do just that.
“We know that the start of the season wasn’t good enough,” Keane added. “For whatever reason, we’re back on a winning track now. When you have the winning mentality, the confidence breeds through the whole dressing room so the mentality and the attitude change is from everyone.”