CARSON, Calif. – In 2011, the LA Galaxy entered the MLS Cup Playoffs on a high as Supporters’ Shield winners, who went undefeated at The Home Depot Center en route to an MLS Cup title. But this season, the Galaxy overcame a slow start to enter the playoffs in the Knockout Round, where they’ll face fifth-seeded Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Galaxy captain Landon Donovan and defender Todd Dunivant have been in this situation before and admits that there are some parallels. In 2005, LA snuck into the postseason as the Western Conference’s lowest seed and then embarked on a dream run to the Final, knocking off the Supporters’ Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes, Colorado Rapids, and New England Revolution as LA captured their second MLS Cup title.
“We had a certain confidence about us and a certain inner-knowledge about our team,” said Dunivant. “If you look at our team, we had an awesome team, maybe under performed in the regular season, but made no mistakes in the playoffs.”
Although a shocking moment like Guillermo “El Pando” Ramirez’s goal in extra time of the MLS Cup final with the Galaxy’s cadre of superstars and renown role players, Dunivant believes that experience is analogous to LA’s current situation of, perhaps, underperforming in the regular season.
“Yeah I’d say that 3-8-2 is underperforming to start the year and we’ve righted the ship since then, so all that doesn’t matter,” Dunivant said. “We’ve done what we needed to do to get into the playoffs and now it’s time to make it count when it matters most.”
But according to Donovan, the difference is the amount of experience that LA’s current team have as opposed to the side that won the 2005 final.
“I guess the difference is that we have the experience of having done it and so that really helps. At the end of the day, if you play well it doesn’t matter, but if you play well, it doesn’t matter, but if you play well and get into certain situations then you can always draw back on, “okay this is what we need to do in certain situations, if we get down a goal, if we get down two goals, if we go up a goal, if we go up two goals.”
“We know how to manage it and we know how to win games when they’re knockout games when they’re knockout games, and your season is over if you lose,” Donovan added. “We know how to handle that and if we play the right way then that might be a huge advantage for us.”