CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are back on point, and they’re thinking about silverware again.
LA (11-5-7) put their 4-1 loss last weekend to the Columbus Crew thoroughly behind them with a dominant 2-0 triumph Saturday over the Vancouver Whitecaps and sit just five points behind Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield leader Seattle (14-7-3) with 11 games to go.
The Galaxy’s next game is huge, which is set for Wednesday night at StubHub Center against Eastern Conference leading D.C. United (13-7-4), who are second in the Shield standings and a point in front of FC Dallas (12-7-6), Sporting Kansas City (12-7-6) and Real Salt Lake (11-5-9) and three above LA (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live). The Galaxy have a game in hand over Seattle and D.C., and two against the others ahead of them.
Landon Donovan, who scored the winning goals in Wednesday’s 4-3 comeback victory over the Colorado Rapids and the win over the Whitecaps, was asked Saturday night if the Galaxy believed they were Supporters’ Shield contenders.
"Now we do," he said. "It’s taken a long time, but we have a real chance now. We play Dallas twice more, we play Seattle twice more, so really it’s in our hands. Obviously, big game with big implications on Wednesday because even if we don’t finish top of the West, if we get through the West [in the playoffs], all these games are important [in determining the MLS Cup host]."
LA faces FC Dallas at home on Sept. 20 and in Frisco, Texas on Oct. 12, and their home-and-home at the end of the season with Seattle -- Oct. 19 at StubHub and Oct. 25 up north -- could determine who captures the silver plate.
The Galaxy were comprehensively dominant against Vancouver, as they were over the previous 5½ weeks in one-sided wins over New England, Seattle and Portland, a draw with San Jose and in the second half at Colorado. Throw out the Columbus loss and the first half against the Rapids, and they’ve been playing their best soccer in nearly two years, perhaps much longer.
The poor efforts against the Crew and Rapids could work as a positive as they go forward.
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"Adversity is something that can definitely build a team," defender Omar Gonzalez said. "Going through rough times, you never like going through it, but at the end of it, hopefully you can come out of it and say, ‘OK, we learned and we’re going to be better from it.’ ... Now we just move forward and just continue with the way we did tonight."
Coach Bruce Arena said the rough patch was a bit more than a hiccup.
"I think the sign of a good team is to deal with some adversity, come from behind, correct your mistakes," he said. "So we’re becoming a good team, I think."
Midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, who netted the second goal Saturday, is used to the ups and downs of a full campaign.
"There is a lot of talk in this locker room, we talk a lot – even during the game we talk – and say we have a chance for the Supporters’ Shield,” he said. “And now we’re so close, we can’t step back. It’s good to see everyone with this mentality."