Critical stretch awaits Galaxy in July

Two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Galaxy were talking about a chance to take over first place in the Western Conference standings. That was before a four-game road trip that saw the Galaxy return with just one point taken out of a possible 12.

As a result, the Galaxy now sit tied for second place with the San Jose Earthquakes, nine points behind FC Dallas -- and if the playoffs started today, the Quakes would have the home-field advantage. While the middle of the table is unfamiliar territory for the Green and Gold, they aren't in panic mode just yet.

"Obviously we don't want to be in third place right now, our goal is to be in first," said Galaxy original Cobi Jones. "We're still under halfway in the season, so we know we have some time. It's a situation where we're trying to focus on each game one at a time."

Ups and downs aren't anything new in the world of sports. But as the 2005 MLS campaign nears the halfway point, the Galaxy quickly need to right their ship before the front runners put any more distance between themselves and Los Angeles.

July will be a crucial month for the Galaxy to make up some ground. The first game on the slate for Monday is one of the top teams in the league, Eastern Conference leader New England Revolution. That's not the easiest of tasks for a team to face trying to recover from a disastrous road trip.

Once July is over, the Galaxy won't see home again until September. With the way they've played on the road, every point will be needed to be in position to win back home-field advantage.

"I think it's going to be tight all the way through," said Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson. "Certainly Dallas has a bit more breathing room. We would have liked to have that, but we don't"

The Galaxy have proven that it doesn't take a whole lot of time to slide up and down the table.

"That's how the league is. One team goes on a three-game winning streak and they're up on top," said defender Tyrone Marshall. "Another team goes on a losing streak like we did and be back in the middle of the table."

The last four games were nothing short of a nightmare for all involved around the Galaxy -- and the next four games could prove to be the make or break point of the entire season. It all starts on the Fourth of July at The Home Depot Center against the Revolution, and the Galaxy are hoping that they can give their fans a fireworks show both during the game as well as after.

greg Daurio is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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