CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy go from one major test to another when they face high-flying D.C. United on Wednesday at StubHub Center (7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes).
Coaches and players understandably were proud of their 2-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, just days after an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Columbus Crew followed by an early, three-goal deficit against the Colorado Rapids that surprisingly led to a 4-3 victory.
The Galaxy insisted after Saturday’s impressive performance their collective mentality was different, with the end result one of their better defensive efforts of the season.
Now they’ll have to prove they’re right.
“It’s game to game,” veteran left back Todd Dunivant said. “You go into the Colorado and Columbus games thinking you’re ready to go and you saw what happened. You have to prove it over and over.
“There’s no ‘Now we’ve turned the corner.’ There’s none of that kind of talk. You literally have to prove it every game and every week.
“The second you think you’ve cracked it and got it all figured out you’re going to be down three goals at the half. That’s a good lesson for us.”
Added head coach Bruce Arena when asked about the team’s change in approach, “How do you know? If it’s that simple would that be the case for the first 23 games? It’s the usual ebbs and flows, ups and downs you experience during a season.”
Speaking of such changes in momentum, D.C. United endured one of the bleakest regular seasons in MLS history in 2013. United finished just 3-24-7 – and became the first team in MLS history to win three or fewer games – for only 16 points, but they did win the U.S. Open Cup by virtue of a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake.
What followed during the offseason was an almost complete roster makeover that featured the additions of, among others, ex-Galaxy right back Sean Franklin through the re-entry draft; Eddie Johnson from Seattle, defenders Bobby Boswell (Houston) and Jeff Parke (Philadelphia), midfielder Davy Arnaud (Montreal) and Fabian Espindola (New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake).
The result has been nothing short of stunning. United is in first place in the Eastern Conference (13-7-4, 43 points) and just earned a decisive 3-0 victory at Sporting Kansas City last weekend.
“Obviously they’ve had a very good year to date,” Arena said. “A bounce-back year, which is probably a rule of thumb in the league. When you’re down you get the resources to come back up. (Head coach) Ben Olsen has done a terrific job turning the team around.
“It will be an exciting game on Wednesday.”
The Galaxy’s Alan Gordon has been impressed with United as well.
“When a full team believes in the system and is on the same page, that makes for a tough team to beat,” he said. “It’s going to be a very tough game for us here.
“We’re going to have to have a big performance to beat this team.”