CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy believe they’re streaking again after a brief road meltdown, and they know that a really fine week – wins Wednesday night over D.C. United and in Sunday’s SuperClasico against Chivas USA, coupled with a few upsets elsewhere – could position them atop the Supporters’ Shield standings heading into the final eight weeks of the MLS season.
It’s a long shot, to be sure, and their StubHub Center showdown with D.C., atop the Eastern Conference standings after last weekend’s jaw-dropping 3-0 romp at Sporting Kansas City, provides real challenges (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live). It’s something of a measuring stick ahead of the stretch run.
"It’s an important game," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said following Friday’s training session at StubHub. "It will be good to see how we size up with each other."
That ought to be interesting. The Galaxy (11-5-7) have lost just twice since mid-May and have been dominant in most of their games since the World Cup break, scoring three or more goals in four of their last eight league encounters to climb within five points of Seattle’s lead in the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield tables.
D.C. (13-7-4) has had a glorious worst-to-first run, turning things around following last year’s 3-24-7 disaster, and arrive having won 13 of 21 games after claiming just three of the previous 38.
"They don’t do anything super special, but they’ve got really good players all over the field," said Landon Donovan, who scored the winning goals in LA’s comeback win in Colorado a week ago and last weekend’s victory over Vancouver. "They don’t dazzle or wow you with a lot of things, but they’re very good players. ... They’ve got a really good formula for success right now, and it’s absolutely no accident why they are where they are."
It’s a chance for the Galaxy to see just how good they are, right?
"Not at all," defender Omar Gonzalez said when he was asked. "They’re just another team coming to our place. They’ve been having a great year – I’m happy for them, turning their season around from last year – but I think they see themselves measuring themselves up against us.
"We just have to show up the right way, and I think if we do that, it’s going to be hard for them to get points here."
- Get the latest Galaxy headlines at LAGalaxy.com
The Galaxy, who are three games into a difficult eight-games-in-30-days stretch, would climb to second in the Supporters’ Shield race with a win over D.C. If they then beat Chivas on Sunday and Seattle loses at home Saturday to Colorado, they’re on top.
"There’s a lot to do before we get two wins in the next few games, and my guess is that D.C.’s not going to come here and roll over, so we have a big challenge," Donovan said. "The beauty of these games coming in quick succession is that we’re in a rhythm, guys are playing well, guys are feeling good, and there’s no time to talk about a whole lot. You don’t overthink things, you just go out and play.
"Right now we’re playing well, guys are confident ... and we just want to keep this going."