Galaxy keep an eye on opposition

CARSON, Calif. - Soccer fans around the country this have a virtual buffet of soccer to watch this weekend. After a number of midweek games on Wednesday night in MLS, the league returns to a nearly full slate of action again on Saturday. World Cup qualifying is also back in full swing this weekend, meaning VCRs, TiVos, and good old-fashioned channel surfing will be working overtime.

In Los Angeles, the Galaxy will be particularly interested in the action. The Galaxy have a bye this week and must watch their rivals battle it out on the field to determine their playoff fate. In a strange twist of fate, Colorado and Dallas, the two teams the Galaxy are jockeying with for playoff position, are playing each other at Pizza Hut Park.

At any other juncture in the season, players might try to take their weekend off and go play a round of golf or just spend some time with their families. But things being what they are in the playoff race, most Galaxy players admit they will be glued to the television.

"If it wasn't so close I'd probably try and distance myself a little bit, but their games really have direct results on our season," said Pete Vagenas this week in training. "I'll be a rabid fan of the teams they're playing."

Vagenas got half his wish Wednesday night when Chivas USA drew with Colorado. Now, no matter what happens the rest of the way, if the Galaxy can take care of their own business in the final weekend, they will avoid a conference semifinal matchup with San Jose. Catching Dallas for home-field advantage will take some help, and the Galaxy can only watch.

"I'm a soccer fan, so I'll be watching to see what's going on around the league," said Herculez Gomez. "But I'm not going to put too much focus on that. We can't control what Dallas or Colorado does. Now we've got to sit patiently and wait our turn."

Head coach Steve Sampson has even more interest in this weekend's games. Not only does his team's playoff fate hand in the balance, but also five of his players are away on international duty. Chris Albright and Kevin Hartman are with the U.S. national team, Guillermo Ramirez is with Guatemala, Michael Umana is with Costa Rica and Tyrone Marshall is playing with Jamaica in a friendly. So what will Sampson be watching this weekend?

"Not only MLS, but Guatemala, Costa Rica and the U.S. national teams. Jamaica plays Australia on Sunday," Sampson said. "I don't know if that will be shown, but if it is I'll be watching it. There's a lot of football to be watched this week."

All the Galaxy can do this weekend though is find a comfortable chair, a cold beverage, and grab the remote. A player could dizzy himself trying to go over the various scenarios and what-ifs surrounding the weekend's games. In Los Angeles they are taking a business-like approach.

"All of that is out of our control," said Sampson. "All we have to do right now is sit back and watch and see what happens and prepare for San Jose (in the final week of the regular season)."

Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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