CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have gone to war together all season. And ironically, their biggest accomplishment so far of 2011 was accomplished while they were anything but banded together on the pitch.
On Saturday, with Galaxy players spread out throughout Southern California, the club clinched the 2011 Supporters’ Shield. Thanks to the Philadelphia Union’s 2-0 win over Seattle, LA claimed their second consecutive Shield title and accomplished one of the team’s major goals of the year.
That they didn't do the job on their own was not necessarily a bad thing.
“It’s one of those things that you want to be a direct result of what you did that day,” Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders said at training on Monday. “However, it was kind of nice to be able to sit back and watch someone else do some of the work for us.”
Saunders was not watching the Seattle-Philly game, but was getting updates via text messages from teammate A.J. DeLaGarza. Omar Gonzalez, meanwhile, was with teammates Landon Donovan, Sean Alvarado and Mike Magee, pulling for the Union.
“We were cheering when Philadelphia was scoring,” Gonzalez said Monday. “It was nice. It was fun.”
Teammate Todd Dunivant was stuck at home without a car and took the game in by himself, but celebrated with teammates afterward.
“It’s the hardest thing to do in this league,” he said. “You get all the credit for winning MLS Cups, but winning the Shield is the hardest thing to do in this league. It’s nothing to scoff at. We wanted to have a nice night to celebrate it.”
One person who was not in a celebratory mood was head coach Bruce Arena, who said he watched “bits and pieces” of the Union’s win over Seattle. To Arena, what happened on Saturday was bound to happen at some point or another.
“I didn’t celebrate,” Arena said. “I kind of believed we had the Shield won for a while.”
The Galaxy held a seven-point lead over Seattle before Saturday’s match. In order for the Sounders to have won the Shield, they would have had to have won their remaining three matches while the Galaxy needed to lose one match and not win their other game.
“I suspected we were going to win it,” Arena said. “That was probably in my own mind. Having said that, I do applaud a lot of the teams in our league; they’ve had great years and it hasn’t been easy. We’ve had a pretty good season and a good run over the last two months to kind of secure that position.”
That the Galaxy are in the position they are in is testament to Arena’s work and the work his coaching staff have done to make sure the club churned forward despite missing several key players at various times throughout the season.
“It goes to show you that the coaching staff has put together a great roster of players,” Saunders said. “It is truly a team effort because we’ve had probably 24 guys competing within the league games. It shows you that we do have a complete team and we’re able to step on the field with a number of different changes of players and still get results.”
And last weekend proved they can get results, even when they’re not playing.