Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman considers Wizards 'keeper Tony Meola one of his idols.
Rich Schultz/MLS/

Wins leader Hartman wants more

Hartman's first year in the league -- the Galaxy have been to the MLS Cup Final three times, winning one title.

Hartman also credited the MLS rules -- specifically, the shootout format employed in the first four years of the league -- for giving him and other veteran goalkeepers a distinct advantage over younger netminders.

"A couple of years ago, you couldn't have ties, and I had back-to-back 20-win seasons. I don't know if people are going to be hitting 20 wins year-in and year-out. I think that will be advantageous for us. We just want to be remembered as people who were consistent for a long time.

"I'm sure there are young players out there gunning for us, looking to take us down. I think that's good. That just shows the advancement of the league, and that this league is going to continue to improve."

Before Hartman starts worrying about whether he'll be the holder of the wins record when he retires or if anyone will be able to usurp him at the top of the list, he's got a playoff race to think about. The Galaxy finish their 2004 regular season campaign with five Western Conference matches, the first of which comes Saturday in Dallas against the Burn.

On two occasions in May, the Galaxy dominated the Burn home and away, winning 3-1 in the Cotton Bowl on May 8 and then defeating the current Western Conference cellar-dwellers 4-1 at The Home Depot Center. Hartman said that while those drubbings may serve to make the Burn nervous, they may also have given Colin Clarke's men more resolve.

"That could amp them up, so you can't really read into anything too much," Hartman said. "You just have to make sure that you go out there and establish your dominance over them at the beginning of the game."

At stake for the Galaxy is a chance to climb up the standings in the Western Conference and secure home field advantage throughout the MLS Cup playoffs, including the final, which will be played at the HDC on November 14. After giving new Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson his first MLS victory five days ago, the club may have turned the tide after their recent run of poor form.

"We wanted to really establish ourselves as a dynasty-type team," said Hartman. "It's tough to do that when you're putting ties together along with losses when you need to be putting wins together and throwing a couple of ties in. I think that now that we've got that first win under our belts, maybe it's going to add a little bit to our confidence."

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

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