LA aim to feed off Supporters' Shield success in playoffs

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy seamlessly pieced together a successful season, winning 19 games and securing their second consecutive Supporters’ Shield.

However, that only carries so much weight.

While the Galaxy were the best regular-season club in 2011, players are aware that regular-season hardware does not always equate to postseason glory.

“It’s always important to stamp your authority on a season and I think we’ve done that the last few years, especially this year we’ve had a really good season,” midfielder David Beckham said. “It’s not over yet. You can end up winning the Supporters’ Shield and end up going out in the first round.”

The Galaxy enter the postseason on the strength of a 19-5-10 record, amassing 67 points and easily wrapping up their third Supporters’ Shield title in club history.

Finding success from March through October is much more difficult than succeeding in November, and those around the league are also keenly aware, Galaxy players insist.

“It’s a really big accomplishment,” captain Landon Donovan said. “I said this last year – ask any guy in the league, any coach, any GM what the hardest thing to do in this league and that’s win the Supporters’ Shield. We’re very proud of it. Unfortunately in our league, it doesn’t mean a whole lot practically, but for us, it means a lot and we’re proud of it.”

The Galaxy set out with several goals at the start of the season and have already accomplished two of the most important ones. Aside from claiming the Shield, they won Group A of the CONCACAF Champions League and advanced to the tournament quarterfinals.

Now, the team has to put this season’s lofty accomplishments behind and look ahead.

“It’s one of those so we have to stay focused, stay concentrated on what we need to do and on our goal,” Beckham said. “Our goal is to win a championship at the end of the year.”

Tossed into the postseason fray, the Galaxy will encounter some different situations than they faced in the regular season. For one, the team begins training this week not knowing their opponent and not knowing where they will be playing on Sunday. That will be determined as early as Wednesday. If New York beat FC Dallas, LA will play the Red Bulls in the first round; otherwise they get the winner of Thursday’s Colorado-Columbus match.

Whatever challenges the club faces, though, Galaxy players are confident that the characteristics the team displayed en route to a 19-win season will shine through in the playoffs as well.

“Bruce [Arena] has done a good job of building a team that’s really competitive from [players] one to 30, but also we have enough quality where in a one-game do-or-die loser-goes-home game, we’re good enough and talented enough,” Donovan said. “It’s a tricky balance in our league, it always has been that way. I’ve been on both sides of the coin and sometimes but we think we’re good enough to win.”

Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached at buenodad@gmail.com