CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have four games left in the MLS regular season, including a much-anticipated trio featuring fellow Western Conference powers Real Salt Lake, San Jose and Seattle.
But first there is the little matter of a match with the Colorado Rapids, who are seventh in the West, winners of just two of their last 14 and hanging on to the slimmest of playoff hopes. The teams meet Sunday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. (4 p.m., KDOC, Galavision AM 1150, 1330 AM, LIVE CHAT).
Easy game to overlook, right? A trap game, perhaps? It’s anything but that, according to Galaxy coaches and players. Even as early as Saturday night, immediately following LA’s 4-2 win over Toronto FC, captain Landon Donovan was focused on Sunday’s meeting with the Rapids.
“For me, to be honest, I think the most important game is going to be the Colorado game because I don’t doubt that we’ll be ready for Salt Lake and Seattle and San Jose,” he said. “Those are big games and teams we can likely play in the playoffs but the Colorado game is a game we’re playing a team at their home field with nothing to lose, so we got to make sure we’re ready next week to play and try to get three points there.”
That sentiment was echoed by head coach Bruce Arena after training on Wednesday.
“I can assure you we’re not overlooking the game,” he said. “It’s a good challenge for our team. It’s always hard to play in Colorado.”
Added left back Todd Dunivant, “You can’t overlook any games in this league. If you think you’ve got a game won, you’re probably lost it.
“We’re going to be looking at this game as a huge game for us. It’s such a tough, tight race right now in the West, just one point separating two through four in our conference.
“We’re all jostling for position and every point matters.”
The Galaxy (15-11-4, 49 points) will be taking on a Colorado (9-18-3, 30 points) side they faced just over two weeks ago at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy’s 2-0 victory that night was made especially memorable not only because of Christian Wilhelmsson’s first MLS goal but a brilliant, sliding save by midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, who denied the Rapids’ Conor Casey an almost certain goal in the 79th minute, earning the MLS Save of the Week award.
Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee said the game was much more difficult than the final score indicated.
“That game was tough,” he said. “They started bringing it to us for a good span there. They brought on Omar Cummings and he changed the game and they were dangerous.
“I don’t think 2-0 really shows what happened in the game.”
Which is why the Galaxy expect another tough one Sunday in the third and final meeting of the year between the two sides with LA winning each of the first two.
“I think any time you play in Colorado at altitude you’re thinking it’s going to be an easy day,” Dunivant said. “It’s probably the most difficult venue to come into in this league. Just from that standpoint alone it’s not an easy place to get wins.
“We’ve had some success there and we want to recreate that again.
“We’re expecting a tough game again.”