CARSON, Calif. – Now for the real task at hand for the LA Galaxy.
Highly anticipated friendlies against Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid are now in the past and the defending MLS Cup champions can concentrate on what really matters, namely the regular season that resumes Sunday in Seattle (6 p.m. PT, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, AM 1150, 1330 AM, LIVE CHAT) against Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field.
“The last couple of weeks kind of got in the way of preparation for the games that are important,” the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane said after Friday’s light training session. “It’s finished now. We look forward to Sunday’s game.
“It’s going to be a big game, but the way we’re playing at the moment we can go there and certainly get a result.”
Sunday’s Western Conference clash features two teams separated by just one point in the standings. Seattle (9-5-7, 34 points) is tied for third in the West with Vancouver, with the resurgent Galaxy (10-10-3, 33 points), riding a five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) in MLS play, right behind.
Six weeks ago the Galaxy were nowhere in sight in the playoff race, but that’s changed dramatically, to say the least.
“It was definitely a long shot,” the Galaxy’s Mike Magee said with a grin when asked if he had pictured the Galaxy being in the position they are in now. “I think it was a long shot for us to catch anyone at that point.”
But here they are, feeling good about themselves despite a 5-1 loss to Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid on Thursday in front of a record soccer crowd of 30,317 at The Home Depot Center.
“That doesn’t matter at all,” central defender Omar Gonzalez said of Thursday’s loss. “Who cares about that game? It’s just for fun, for the fans, fun for us. Obviously we want to do well against that type of team, but [Sunday] is a game that matters.”
The Galaxy will be taking on a Seattle side which defeated Trinidadian side Caledonia AIA 3-1 in a CONCACAF Champions League match on Thursday. Sammy Ochoa, Fredy Montero and Andy Rose all scored in that game for Seattle, who rested top scorer Eddie Johnson, goalkeeper Michael Gspurning and others while playing star midfielder Osvaldo Alonso for just 45 minutes while looking ahead to Sunday’s game with LA.
Seattle enter Sunday’s game unbeaten in their last seven league games, taking 15 points in that span. Sigi Schmid’s side, who beat the Galaxy 2-0 at home on May 2 in their only meeting of the season, have not lost at home since May 23.
The Sounders are expecting a crowd of more than 60,000 on Sunday, and Keane said he can’t wait.
“It’s always good to play in front of big crowds,” he said. “Players always want to be involved in games like this.
“I’m used to the UK, playing in front of 50,000 or whatever every week. For me, it’s a normal thing. I look forward to playing in games like that. Hopefully we go there and get a good result.”