CARSON, Calif. — Since the start of the 2011 season, the LA Galaxy have been a determined bunch.
They knocked off Seattle by 1-0 on March 15 to open the season and have opened up the throttle since then. While they haven’t pulled away from everyone quite yet – Seattle and FC Dallas sit within six points of LA – they haven’t looked back.
Or have they?
Galaxy players said that while they will ultimately control their own destiny in the race for the Supporters' Shield, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have other teams trying to chase down the Galaxy from behind.
“It’s absolutely good to have someone breathing down your neck,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “We don’t have a lot of room for error.”
LA claimed the Shield in 2010, finishing atop the Western Conference with 59 points, but they needed a victory over FC Dallas on the final day of the season to claim the title ahead of Real Salt Lake. This year, Seattle sit on 49 points while FC Dallas have 46, each only a Galaxy slip-up or two from tightening the race even further.
“We’ve been on a great run and we’re still only three points clear right now of the Shield,” Dunivant said. “There are teams with us and that’s good because you want to be pushed. You want to be on your toes, kind of always looking over your shoulder.”
The Galaxy, Seattle and FC Dallas have all played the same number of games, and LA won’t face either one for the remainder of the season. The Galaxy and FCD took turns beating each other at home while LA took four points from Seattle in their two encounters this season.
Of their remaining seven matches, the Galaxy will play four at the Home Depot Center, where the club has yet to lose in 2011. At some point this season, the club will be able to breathe easier if results continue to go their way.
“We want to get as many points as we can no matter how far or how far behind anybody is,” Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza said. “We’ve just got to keep winning and worry about ourselves and if we keep doing that, we’re not going to be too worried about what other teams are doing.”
That the club has done so well and still has not been able to pull away might not be a bad thing, though. In their attempt to catch them, both Seattle and FC Dallas have kept the Galaxy honest, which has translated into further success for LA.
“If we were 10 points clear right now, we might not have the same sense of urgency and we might let things slide,” Dunivant said. “When it’s a tight race, it’s good for us.”