CARSON, Calif. – Friendlies against Tottenham Hotspur and, especially, Real Madrid have provided all of the buzz surrounding the LA Galaxy the past week-and-a-half. Now that the exhibition portion of LA's season is done, it's business as usual.
That's good news for the team, which understands the importance of such games to the greater picture but nonetheless isn't particularly fond of them.
It might seem Sunday's showdown at Seattle (9 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), between sides suddenly separated in the Western Conference standings by a mere point – and with more than 55,000 expected at CenturyLink Field – now becomes the focus, but it's been in the forefront all along.
“Seattle's always in your mind,” midfielder Mike Magee said on the eve of the Galaxy's trek to the Pacific Northwest. “Obviously, you want to get through [Thursday's friendly against the Spanish champions] healthy, but in the back of your mind, that's the real game. Seattle's a massive game for us, a game that we feel like we need to get a result. That's the only game we've been worried about.”
The Galaxy (10-10-3) have won seven of their last 10 league matches and will have all three of their big stars – Robbie Keane, the MLS Player of the Month for July; David Beckham, who missed last week's victory at FC Dallas while on Olympic duty in London; and Landon Donovan, returning from a one-game suspension – for a match that could send them to third in the West. The Sounders (9-5-7) and Vancouver (9-7-7) sit one point above LA.
The lapse between the Real Madrid game and Sunday's kickoff means nothing, Bruce Arena says – Seattle also played Thursday night, in a CONCACAF Champions League opener – but playing friendlies can be counterproductive during critical stretches in the regular season.
“We've been having a lot of games,” defender Omar Gonzalez said, “and now for a friendly to happen and then go into a tough place like Seattle, where we have to be our best, it's just tough.”