CARSON, Calif. – Determination and focus have helped the LA Galaxy out in league play over the last three years, and those two traits could lead the club to international glory as well.
While focusing on the big prize – in this case, the CONCACAF Champions League title – the Galaxy are determined to add another piece of silverware to their mantle.
“It’s a big tournament and we’re putting a lot into it,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “We haven’t come this far to bow out now. Without a doubt we’re putting everything we have into this. It’s a big priority for our organization, for our team.”
The Galaxy will play Toronto FC in a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match at The Home Depot Center on Wednesday. With the series tied at 2-2 after the first-leg at a packed out Rogers Center, a victory or low-scoring draw would propel the Galaxy onward to the next round.
By moving onto the semifinals – where the Galaxy would meet either Mexican side Santos Laguna or fellow MLS rival Seattle Sounders – LA would move closer towards gaining the kind of success and respect players long to achieve.
“It’s the next step for the club,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said of the crown prize that is the CCL. “Of course as individuals as well we want to do well in all competitions but after winning the championship last year, we want to win the championship this year again but obviously we’re advanced in the Champions League and we want to continue to progress as a club. Wednesday is a big game in achieving that goal.”
The Galaxy are arguably the most successful franchise in league history, having won three MLS Cup titles, four Supporters’ Shield crowns, two US Open Cups and even a CONCACAF title, in the 2000 Champions' Cup. But in order to achieve true international respect, the Galaxy must expand success beyond their borders.
“If we want to be on par with everyone else in the world eventually, we’ve got to first conquer our region and that’s Mexico and Canada and everyone else,” Dunivant said. “If this league wants to continue to take steps forward we have to do well in these tournaments.”
The chance the Galaxy have in front of them is not something that comes along often. The Galaxy reached the 2010-11 Champions League preliminary round but fell badly to Puerto Rico in qualifying, losing 5-3 on aggregate. Now they sit just 90 minutes away from the semifinal round. Not only would they build up their own reputation with continued success but would also potentially carry the league’s flag as well.
“After this round it’s possible there’s only one MLS team left in this competition,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “We want to do our club proud, we want to do our league proud and if we have the opportunity to do something special we want to take advantage of it.”