The LA Galaxy left the CONCACAF Champions League behind when they departed Monterrey following their loss in Wednesday's semifinal closer, and they won't make the same mistake they did in 2012.
Last year's awful beginning provided several lessons, and quickly turning the corner on the regional club championship – to concentrate entirely on league play – was one of the biggest.
“We can't let it do this year what it did to us last year,” Mike Magee told MLSsoccer.com on the eve of the Galaxy's Saturday showdown with Western Conference leaders FC Dallas in Texas (7:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). “Last year [after] we lost [in the CCL quarterfinals] to Toronto, we had such a mental lapse after that that it kind of cost us half the season. So if there's one thing we can take from being out of this competition the last two years, it's just we have to forget about it. It's time to concentrate on the league now.”
MLS comes into focus just as the Galaxy (2-0-2) head into one of the most demanding stretches of their campaign. After Dallas (4-1-1), they get in succession Sporting Kansas City (at the Home Depot Center), Real Salt Lake (in Utah) and Houston (at the HDC).
LA's lineup Saturday will likely be determined around who needs a rest.
“To be honest with you, we haven't spent a whole lot of time preparing for this game at this point,” Arena said Friday. “We're still trying to figure out which players are going to be available, so our preparation will begin after training today to figure out who is available, that kind of thing. It's a big match and all, but we're in an awkward position where we're a little shorthanded at this point, we haven't been able to sort our our starting lineup yet and probably won't do that until tomorrow.”
Magee, who was limited to a half-hour in the second leg against Monterrey because he hadn't fully recovered from an injection to his ailing hip, says he's ready to go 90 if needed.
“That's just wear and tear over the years. A little tuneup is all I needed,” he said. “I'm ready. It's not completely 100 percent at the moment, but it's definitely better.”
It might be early in the season, but the game is an important one for the Galaxy.
“They're five points ahead of us,” Magee said. “We have two games in hand, but five games into the season, you definitely don't want to be eight points behind the first-place team. We don't want to be chasing. We know how that felt last year, trying to chase, and we were chasing the whole season, and it's so difficult.
"We don't want to be sitting after five games and look up at Dallas and have them kind of seeming unreachable. It's a game we need to start closing that gap.”