Robert Mora / LA Galaxy

Galaxy focused on Portland

CARSON, Calif. – It’s not as if it’s late in the regular season and the Galaxy are floundering at the bottom of the Western Conference or battling for a playoff berth.

Despite being just a month into the 2012 MLS season, the pressure definitely is building on the defending MLS Cup champions.

Losing is something they’re simply not used to and don’t want to get used to, which makes Saturday’s game against the Portland Timbers at The Home Depot Center (7:30 p.m., KDOC and KWHY, even more critical than usual despite it occurring only weeks into the new season.

Beckham, Donovan, Arena
on Timbers

“We’re here to win games and repeat as champions, so of course there’s pressure,” head coach Bruce Arena said after training on Friday. “We’re not satisfied with where we are.

“It’s what it is. Those are the cards that have been dealt to us. We have to make it better, it’s that simple. The way to do it is to win the next game.”

The last time the Galaxy (1-3-0, 3 points) had a similar start in points was in 2009, when they started 0-1-3. There also was 1999, when they had two points after a 2-2 start (both of the wins were by shootout and were worth one point each).

Interestingly, the Galaxy reached the MLS Cup final both of those years.

“We’re not Barcelona,” Landon Donovan said. “You can’t play at 70 percent some games and still win. We have to be at our best if we’re going to win. We still haven’t got it right yet and we need to get it right.

“This is, regardless of the situation, a game we need to win. We’re home against a team that’s now around us at the bottom of the table and it’s a game we need to win, period.”

Chad Barrett was one Galaxy player who said it was too early to talk about pressure, but he did agree the sense of urgency to snap out of their early-season funk is growing.

He also said the current malaise actually might help.

“I think we still have a championship hangover, and I think this is what we needed, something to kick us in the rear and get us going,” he said. “It lets us know it’s a brand new season, and no one’s going to sit back and let you take it to them. We need to buckle down, get our wits about us again and start taking it to teams like we did last year.

“The guys are sick of losing. It’s a terrible feeling and we weren’t used to it last year. We’re still not used to it. I know we’re going to come out (Saturday) hungry. You can guarantee the effort will be there like it was last year.

“And if it’s there, I think you’re going to see a better result.”