Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake will square off early in the 2011 season.
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Tricky opening series could benefit Galaxy

When the Los Angeles Galaxy begin their 2011 MLS campaign, it might seem as though the club is at a disadvantage. Two of their first three games are on the road and against tough Western Conference opponents.

But the 2011 season should set up just fine for LA. The season will begin March 15 at Seattle and continue with the home opener on March 20 against New England, followed by a March 26 fixture at Real Salt Lake.

Just how the rest of the season will shape up remains to be seen, but the team’s first three games will set up well for the defending Supporters’ Shield champions.

Budding rivals

The Galaxy and Seattle Sounders each have their own rivals. LA have healthy rivalries with the San Jose Earthquakes and Chivas USA while Seattle’s decades-old rivalry with Portland will now move forward in MLS. But the Galaxy and the Sounders have had some rivalry-like meetings of late.

At Qwest Field in May 2010, the Galaxy pounded Seattle 4-0 and prompted their front office to offer refunds in the form of a credit to season-ticket holders for 2011 season seats. Then, the two teams met in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Galaxy captain Landon Donovan took offense to Seattle’s willingness to play the Galaxy in the first round. Edson Buddle scored a tremendous goal [WATCH: SEA vs LA playoff highlights] before some 35,000 fans at Qwest Field on Oct. 31 as the Galaxy won 1-0 and went on to win the series by a 3-1 aggregate.

Seattle, though, may have a bit of history on their side. In their two seasons in MLS, they have played host to the first game of the season. In those two games, Seattle have posted a 3-0 win over New York in 2009 and a 2-0 whitewash of Philadelphia in 2010.

[inline_node:325283]How the West will be won

Entering the 2010 season, it stands to reason that the top four Western Conference teams will once again contend for the regular-season conference title. Throw Colorado into the mix, and the West will be hotly contested. It’s a positive, then, that the Galaxy will get two of three toughest venues out of the way in the first three weeks.

There will be no late-season trip to Qwest Field or Real Salt Lake for the Galaxy, and conversely Seattle and Salt Lake won’t have the benefits of hosting the Galaxy with a possible conference title on the line late in the year either. Such later meetings will be held at The Home Depot Center, where the LA beat both teams in the regular season last year.

Starting off right

Whatever happens in Seattle, the Galaxy will face a troubled and flawed opponent in their home opener. When the New England Revolution travel to The Home Depot Center on March 20, they will do so in hopes of finding some answers to the many questions that surround the club.

New England served as the perfect opponent in the 2010 season opener as Edson Buddle buried an early header to give the Galaxy a 1-0 victory on March 27. The Revs could prove to be a welcoming opponent once more.

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