Arena: LA had to earn victory, Supporters' Shield
CARSON, Calif. – In first place for most of the 2010 MLS season, the Los Angeles Galaxy needed one more result to ensure they received their just reward for an otherwise fine season.
The team did just that as the Galaxy battled back to beat FC Dallas 2-1 at The Home Depot Center to claim the Supporters’ Shield.
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Atiba Harris gave FC Dallas a lead in the 22nd minute, but the Galaxy fought back. Landon Donovan won a ball in the corner of the penalty area from FC Dallas’ Jackson Gonçalves and set David Beckham up from long range as Beckham buried his shot from 22 yards out.
“[Jackson] was a little nonchalant letting the ball go, and I wanted to at least put him under pressure,” Donovan said. “When I won the ball, my first thought was to play it across the goal, but there was nothing there. David was calling for it and it was a fantastic finish by him.”
Juninho then scored the game-winner less than one minute into the second half.
“We had to earn it [Sunday],” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “We had to come from behind, we had to play an excellent team in a tough, demanding game. We needed this game.”
The win gives the Galaxy their first Supporters’ Shield since the 2002 season, when the club won their first MLS Cup title.
Now, the players can enter the match and the postseason as favorites to walk away with the MLS Cup title, a mission they kick off against the Seattle Sounders at the aptly named Qwest Field on Oct. 31.
“I feel we’re the team to beat,” Galaxy defender Sean Franklin said. “We’ve been first the whole season. … [We weren’t] consistently good, but neither was everybody else in the league. I know everyone wants to beat us and it’s going to be a fight when we go into Seattle on Sunday.”
The Galaxy had a couple of chances to win the Shield before Sunday’s match, but things did not go their way.
First, LA failed to clinch the league’s best record against Colorado on Oct. 16, when they lost 3-1 after going up early. Then, the Rapids could have done the Galaxy a favor by beating Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
For a moment, it looked as if Colorado would come up big for LA. Leading 2-0 late in the game, RSL seemed doomed. In fact, Arena was already making plans while the Rapids held their lead.
“I probably had a number of calls and plans completed or that I began making around the 88th, 89th, 90th minute,” Arena said. “I’ll be the first to admit it. I contacted a couple of players who were going to play and some who were not.”
Instead, the Rapids gave up two late goals and finished the game tied 2-2, forcing the Galaxy to at least get a draw on Sunday in order to claim the Supporters’ Shield.
Arena, though, was not counting on Colorado to take care of business for the Galaxy.
“What we did today were the things we had planned all along,” Arena said. “We felt it was a one-in-100 chance that today’s game wouldn’t matter.”
In fact, Beckham said, it was a good thing that Real Salt Lake overcame their deficit.
“In a way, I’m glad the result went the way it did because if we would have come into the game with it already wrapped up, then we wouldn’t have had the performance,” said the midfielder. “But we needed the performance like this.
“Last week [against Colorado] was disappointing. Everyone was looking at our character after that game, so it was important that we had a game [Sunday’s].”
Having fought back and winning the way they did gives the team a boost of confidence moving forward, Arena said.
“We haven’t been in a game where we’ve been forced to win, forced to show up and play hard and fight and scrap for everything we could get, and we did it,” he said. “That’s the kind of game that should give our team and our players a lot of confidence as we go into what is going to be a real difficult playoff series against Seattle.