CARSON, Calif. – When the Los Angeles Galaxy toppled FC Dallas 2-1 at the Home Depot Center in their last regular-season fixture, they earned more than just the Supporters' Shield.
Yes, they proved they were the top team in the MLS regular season, and, yes, they earned some silverware regardless of the outcome of their postseason campaign. They also won a spot in the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League.
But perhaps the greatest benefit of the Supporters' Shield is that FC Dallas will have to travel to Carson for the Western Conference Final (Sunday, 9 pm ET, ESPN2/Deportes).
“They’ve got to come here to play us,” LA captain Landon Donovan said. “That’s why we worked so hard all year, to have a chance to play this game to go to the Cup at home.”
For their most important game of the year, the Galaxy will be at home and will have their home crowd providing support. The team won’t have to travel, won’t have to deal with any of such travel-related issues and won’t face any sort of hostile environment.
“We’ve tried to do that all the way through the season, put ourselves in the best position to go all the way and make it good for ourselves and I’ve think we’ve done that,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said.
Ironically, if there was any team in the league who likely would have felt comfortable playing such a high-stakes game on the road, it would be the Galaxy. With a 9-3-3 record, they actually had one more point (30) on the road than they did at home (29). In fact, Los Angeles allowed just seven away goals in 15 road games this season.
But the team is not about to discount the importance of playing this game at home, no matter how strong they were on the road this season.
“It helps next week being at home and we’ve done it in the right way so far," Beckham said. "We need to continue to do that. We’ve been on the road and have done well and won games. Being at home obviously gives us the advantage of having our home fans on our backs with us. We’re in a good position but we need to work hard.”
Now, a 30-game regular season and 59 points lead the Galaxy to a one-off game to decide the fate of their 2010 campaign.
“The first round of the playoffs, there is no advantage in this league," Donovan said. "What you’re really playing for in the regular season is to have the chance to play this home game to go to MLS Cup. Now we’ve done that and we’ve got to take advantage of it.”