CARSON, Calif. – For the LA Galaxy, the quest for MLS Cup glory will begin in the same building where it ended in a crushing defeat in 2009.
The Galaxy will begin to try and right their wrongs from the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs and attempt to claim their first league championship in five years when they visit Qwest Field for match one of their two-leg Western Conference semifinal matchup against the Seattle Sounders.
Fresh off their Supporters’ Shield conquest, the Galaxy can draw strength from knowing they were the top team in MLS during the 2010 regular season. But facing off against the Sounders will pose a challenge regardless of where LA finished in the table.
“They are probably one of the hottest teams in the league right now,” Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza said. “They just lost to Houston, but they are on a hot streak, so it’s going to be tough ... especially on the turf, in front of 36,000 fans in Seattle.”
The Galaxy swept the season series against the Sounders and brushed them aside without too many problems. On July 4, Los Angeles beat Seattle 3-1 at The Home Depot Center after crushing them two months prior at Qwest Field 4-0.
“Every game is different and any game that we’ve played previously in Seattle is almost a wash at this point,” Arena said. “It’s a new season and we’ve got to be ready to play a team that’s been very good the last half of the MLS season. Our last result in Seattle means nothing.”
Still, the July 4 match was a bit of a turning point. After their victory, the Galaxy sat at 11-1-3 while Seattle fell to 4-8-3. Instead of sinking further toward the bottom of the conference, however, the Sounders tied FC Dallas the next time out and then reeled off four consecutive victories. After losing to the Galaxy, they lost only twice more all season and had a 10-2-3 mark overall.
The Galaxy, meanwhile, dropped a 2-0 match on the road to the New England Revolution in their following outing. After their victory over Seattle, LA went 7-6-2, a respectable record but far off their early-season pace.
Despite Seattle’s impressive record since early July, Arena could at least find a silver lining in their playoff draw.
“I prefer going to Seattle than going into altitude,” Arena said. “There was always a chance that we could go into Colorado or Salt Lake and the altitude’s an issue. What we’ve assured ourselves of [by winning the Supporters’ Shield] is that we’re not going to be playing at altitude, not that that guarantees anything. It’s a lot easier for the players to adjust to the artificial field than it is to the altitude.”