CARSON, Calif. — Entering the 2011 season, the LA Galaxy’s goals were simple: contend for the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.
Now, with less than three months until the championship match, those goals have turned into missions, and perhaps more. With Robbie Keane joining the Galaxy, the club's goals, hopes and expectations were seemingly simplified: It’s win or else.
Perhaps, though, the Keane signing only brought those expectations to the forefront.
“It was win or else before, so this doesn’t change anything,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “We’ve kind of felt that way the last couple of years.”
Keane has gotten off to a tumbling start, scoring a goal in a 2-0 defeat of the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday and cartwheeling/somersaulting for the first time in MLS. Now, the Galaxy seemingly have all the pieces in place for a run at MLS Cup 2011, which is to be played at the Home Depot Center.
Along with Landon Donovan and David Beckham, Keane helps give the club quality that is expected to result in a title run.
“We want to be here on Nov. 20 and win the MLS Cup,” Arena said. “With [Keane, Donovan and Beckham] it should put us in a good position. We have a fabulous nucleus for a team to win championships, and that’s our goal.”
Demands from ownership to win a championship may be reaching an all-time high. The Galaxy last won MLS Cup in 2005 and numerous players and coaches and have come and gone as the club has tried and failed to win its third league championship. Reaching MLS Cup in 2009 and winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2010 have helped, but the goal this season is to win the whole thing.
For Arena, feeling the heat from his bosses is something he wouldn't change.
“I have no interest in managing a team or players or being part of an organization that doesn’t want to win," Arena said. "We want to win championships. We’re not afraid to say that. These three players are a pretty good start in helping us achieve those goals.”
The pieces are in place for a title run, but those pieces must perform in order for that to happen. Heightened expectations, though, aren’t something players are going to shy away from.
“We all play to win,” Donovan said. “When you are a top athlete, when you do what we do, the reason you do it is to compete and to win.”
Having yet another like-minded player in the mix gives the Galaxy some comfort that their road to MLS Cup 2011 will not be quite as challenging.
“In my opinion,” Donovan said, “our job got easier by bringing in Robbie here.”