CARSON, Calif. – The best MLS team of all time.
Among other things, the LA Galaxy’s MLS Cup 2011 triumph may have given them enough ammunition to stake such a lofty claim.
There is no MLS team better than this current collection of talent, what with all their accomplishments, records and championships, right?
“That’s one that could definitely be argued,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “I don’t know how you compare us to teams from the mid-90s, but this ranks right up there.”
Other clubs, particularly Bruce Arena’s teams from the early days of MLS, have been loaded in both the silverware and talent departments. Players like Marco Etcheverry, Eddie Pope, John Harkes and Jaime Moreno helped D.C. United claim consecutive league titles – and about a dozen other trophies as well – as the Arena-built D.C. teams dominated that era.
But Arena, who brought this current Galaxy squad out from the ashes after taking over late in the 2008 season, said it’s difficult to compare teams, whether it’s this Galaxy side to his old D.C. teams or other past champions from years gone by.
“I'd like to be able to say that, but I don't know how you do that,” Arena said following the Galaxy's latest triumph. “I just don’t. I mean, this is a good team, and we've accomplished a lot this year. ... To have the regular season we had, and then throw in the CONCACAF Champions League and then to win the MLS Cup, it's a hell of an accomplishment.”
Lifting the Galaxy up to the “Best Team Ever” status, though, has one other effect.
“I really think if I say this team belongs there, you minimize accomplishments of others,” Arena said. “There have been some very good teams in this league. I just think we're another one of those.”
Dunivant, however, said this LA squad is far better than one other team he played on that may have been in the conversation. San Jose’s 2003 MLS Cup featured such names as Landon Donovan, Dwayne De Rosario, Pat Onstad and Jeff Agoos, and helped lay the foundation for what would be Houston’s back-to-back championship clubs from 2006 and '07.
“It’s not even close,” Dunivant said. “This team blows it out of the water.”
With talented players such as David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Donovan leading the way, the Galaxy roster features talented individuals that have competed at the highest level and have been successful in doing so. With Juninho and Omar Gonzalez, the Galaxy boast young players who could continue to blossom into stars.
While arguing about pure talent is subjective, statistics aren’t. The 2011 Galaxy completed the regular season with a 19-5-10 record, falling one point shy of averaging two points per game – a feat accomplished just once in MLS since the 1990s. This year’s side also allowed just 28 goals, and only eight at home all season. The Galaxy went 12-0-5 at home during the regular season and were a perfect 3-0-0 at The Home Depot Center in the postseason.
Additionally, the Galaxy went 3-0-0 at home in CONCACAF Champions League play, which helped the club claim the top spot in Group A in that tournament. They won and made it look effortless.
“This team was absolutely incredible all year,” Dunivant said. “We set out and did everything we wanted to accomplish. In this day and age, to have a team as good as this with 18 teams in the league and playing six additional Champions League games and two friendlies and everything we’ve done, we’ve been damn near perfect.”
While it may be impossible to say definitively whether this LA side is the best MLS team of all time, what’s clear is that the 2011 Galaxy could stand toe-to-toe with any of the great MLS teams to have come before them.
“I don’t think anyone could beat us,” Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee said. “If we played one-on-one, I’d take us.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.