CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy might appear to have one foot in the MLS Cup final following a 3-0 sprint past the Seattle Sounders, but they're not assuming anything of the sort.
There's still another game to go in the Western Conference Championship, in front the Sounders' rabid fans up north, no less, and the Galaxy are taking nothing for granted, even with such a cushy advantage.
“This is two 90-minute games, and we know that,” defender Todd Dunivant said following Sunday's victory. “This is halftime, as they say, and it's a good start, but it's only that. It's a start.”
The Galaxy took charge with Robbie Keane's header in first-half stoppage time, then got goals from Mike Magee and Keane midway through the second half to open a sizable gap in the home-and-home series. It seemed apt, although there was no relation, that LA started selling MLS Cup tickets – they'll be home Dec. 1 against Houston if they finish off Seattle and the Dynamo hold onto a two-goal lead in D.C. – at the game's conclusion.
“We can't get too carried away with that ourselves,” Keane warned. “It’s important that we got a good win tonight, but the job is only half done. If the lads think for one second that this is over, they may think again, because as we know in football, it’s a funny ol’ game, and anything can happen.”
So what's the approach needed to preserve their lead?
“We have to stay aggressive,” captain Landon Donovan said. “I think defensively we were very good tonight, our shape was very good and we really limited their chances. But next week they'll have Eddie [Johnson] from the start, my guess is they'll have [injured midfielder Mauro] Rosales from the start, and they're a much different team at home than they are on the road. They beat us, 4-0, earlier in the year, and there's no reason why they can't do that again. So we've got to be prepared.”
The Galaxy say MLS Cup won't enter their thoughts until business is done in Seattle.
“We're not even thinking about it yet,” David Beckham said. “We may have put ourselves in a great position, but last time we played in Seattle [in early August], we got beat, 4-0, so we know that they can score goals there, we know they’re dangerous there.”
Said Magee: “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the last two times that we played there, I think we lost combined, 6-0. It’s not going to take much to realize that they can beat us pretty easily.”