For anyone expecting the Los Angeles Galaxy to slip into cruise control being the only top seed left in the playoffs, well you'd be wrong. After a teleconference with Landon Donovan and Bruce Arena this afternoon, there's no doubt that the Galaxy are still taking FC Dallas seriously. Not that there isn't reason to speculate, given the Galaxy sweeping the season series, including a game played just a few weeks ago.
"[FC Dallas] came into LA three weeks ago and gave us a really good game," captain Landon Donovan said. "We expect the same on Sunday. It's going to be a really hard fought game that will come down to making a few plays on either end of the field."
Much will be made over the coming week about how much David Beckham's return to this team has influenced their play. There's no question that David came back the right player at the right time. When he made his return, the Galaxy were in a bit of a slump, having trouble getting results though not tumbling down the table. Since he came back, David Beckham has looked a bit of the old Becks, with two goals in regular season play, equaling his total from 2009 in four fewer games. He also had one regular season assist, and added two more on Sunday night.
"What [David Beckham] can do on a soccer field is, in my opinion, better than anyone else in this league, and better than a lot of people around the world," captain Donovan said. "The second part is the energy and effort he brings on the field which he's done now for five or six games incredibly well. The third part is the leadership part, he's dedicated and focused on making this team win. When you put all that together, he's going to make this team a lot better."
Landon spoke for a moment about his maturity as a player. Starting with San Jose and then with the Galaxy, championships seemed to fall in his lap. However there's been a bit of a dry spell since 2005, and his ventures into Europe have been well reported on.
"My perspective has absolutely changed. To come in to a team where everything feel together in the right way with San Jose. I won the championship two out of my first three years and then three out of my first five years. At that point, I could almost assume that was normal. As you get older, you start to realize how difficult it is for those things to happen and you start to appreciate it more. Last year gave me a lot of appreciation for what it takes, mainly because I was the captain and I was so in-tune with this team."
Bruce Arena stuck to his talking points: the starting 11 isn't set yet, Gregg Berhalter is available to play, the strategy will be whatever the game dictates. FC Dallas is where it's al because they're a good team and the Galaxy are a good team as well. That's not all that fans can expect on Sunday however. Sure it's two good teams going at it, but it's also a midfielder in David Beckham who can do some fantastic things with the ball, and it's a midfielder in Landon Donovan who always seems to know just what the game needs. It's also a player in David Ferriera who had a MVP level season for FC Dallas. Many interesting story lines as the season charges forward to its thrilling conclusion.