For the Los Angeles Galaxy, after a week of preparation there remains nothing more to it than, well, to do it. FC Dallas sits in an awkward position: they are by no means an upstart, given that their opening round series was 2 vs. 3. Yet the sort of are the upstart, with the franchise last winning silverware in 1997. However, it's not like the Galaxy don't know what it's like to be the upstart team that isn't an upstart. Just last year, the Galaxy were the team that came out of nowhere to represent the west in the MLS Cup final. Now the Galaxy are the team with the target on their back, playing at being the juggernaut in the MLS West.
"I think we're more prepared, we're more experienced. We know what to expect from the game," said captain Landon Donovan. "Last year we came on really late and did well at the end of the year, but this year we were the best team from week one. It's about defending our turf now. It's why we pushed so hard three weeks ago and now we have the opportunity to play at home to go to the final."
In many ways, David Beckham was right to compare Sunday's match to a derby game. The atmosphere certainly will certainly be top drawer, and there is a feeling that all the records should just be thrown out. It also has an element of familiarity, as the Galaxy and FC Dallas faced each other on the last week of the season, meaning each side knows fairly well the shape and character of their opponent.
"I think given the fact that we probably played them before [the last game of the season] I think it was in May; having seen them recently at least helps," coach Bruce Arena said. "It helps them as well. I don't think it makes things any more difficult, I think perhaps it makes things easier just from the fact that we're familiar with them a little bit more than we would be. Having said that, I think that would be the case for Dallas as well."
The familiarity might also be from the shared history of some of the players on this club. The LA Galaxy have retained two members from their 2005 MLS Cup winning squad, Landon Donovan and Todd Dunivant, while FC Dallas has picked up two members from that squad, goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and Ugo Ihemelu. That incarnation of the Galaxy lives only in fan memories, as underperforming squads led by Steve Sampson and Frank Yallop were dismantled and the Beckham experiment left the nature of the LA Galaxy clubhouse permanently changed.
All the talking stops in just over 48 hours. FC Dallas is in Los Angeles, the Galaxy salivating at the chance to face them on Sunday. The stadium is going to be packed, the fans shall be electric, and most of all the footie should be brilliant.