CARSON, Calif. – If the LA Galaxy want to win the CONCACAF Champions League, they’ll have to make it past Toronto FC in their quarterfinal second-leg matchup on Wednesday (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
It would be an important step along the path to what would be a major accomplishment for the already storied club. But the match also matters for LA in the short view: It’s an opportunity to get their first win in 2012.
“We want to have a way of doing things consistently, not just each year but year after year after year,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “We’ve become accustomed to winning. It’s become a habit around here. The reality is now, we’ve played two games and we haven’t won. That didn’t happen to us last year.”
The Galaxy opened their 2012 campaign with a thrilling 2-2 CCL draw last week in Toronto before falling to Real Salt Lake at home in their MLS season opener this past Saturday.
It’s a sharp departure from their 2011 form. Last year, the Galaxy won their first game of the year, defeating Seattle by a 1-0 scoreline. Overall, they won 19 times in the regular-season, four in the MLS Cup Playoffs matches, once in the US Open Cup and four more times in the CONCACAF Champions League. They lost only eight games all season.
“It’s not something we’re used to or comfortable with,” Donovan said of LA’s slow start to the year. “We want to make sure we get our first win [Wednesday].”
Losing to Real Salt Lake on Saturday provided the Galaxy with an opportunity for a quick recovery. On the rare occasion they lost a year ago, the club did well the next time out.
“We responded well every time we lost last year,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “I don’t think we lost consecutive games. We always came back stronger afterward. … In Portland, we had a big loss and came back stronger, and every time we did lose, we responded well and the team turned around quickly. We need to have the same kind of mentality [against Toronto FC] and bunker down and get a good result.”
The results themselves haven't been the only problem. Equally troubling is the way the Galaxy have played in general. LA have allowed five goals in two games, including three in the last 17 minutes of Saturday’s setback.
But rather than discouragement, those setbacks may serve as added motivation.
“Sometimes a loss is a wakeup call,” Dunivant said. “For this team, it generally is because we haven’t lost too much in the last several years.
"It’s a good chance to kind of re-assess and make sure we’re doing things properly. We figured out the few things we did wrong, and there were a lot of things we did right. If we do more of the good things and eliminate the bad things, we’re going to be fine.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.