Are two Supporters' Shields better than one?
A huge, million-dollar question was brought up by Los Angeles Galaxy manager Bruce Arena earlier this week: should the MLS Western Conference regular season champion win two Supporters' Shields?
One would be for finishing first in the West, the other for finishing first in the league, since the West is presumably superior to its Eastern counterparts.
“[The Shield] does carry the same meaning because they give it,” Arena recently told MLSsoccer.com's Luis Bueno. “Why they did not understand that it skews the competition, I don’t quite get it, is odd to me.
"I think if you are going to have an unbalanced schedule, what you should have is a regular-season champion in both leagues. It doesn’t make sense doing it the way we’re doing it.”
In the unbalanced schedule, Western Conference teams will have to play against their Eastern rivals once per year, while they face other Western Conference opponents three times per year.
In the end, only one will be awarded. But for Los Angeles, their road to the Shield will get a little bit harder.
“You still want to be on top at the end of the year, regardless,” Arena said. “Having the competition set up this way certainly opens up a lot of debate. Does it really declare the regular-season champion? We’ll have to let itself play out, but it seems real odd to me that it’s done this way.”
More Injury Bug Problems for Landon Donovan
This week, Landon Donovan was nursing a quad muscle injury, which prevented him from taking part in a number of training sessions.
The possibility of Donovan sitting out the game against the New England Revolution grew strong.
“It’s always possible,” Arena told Bueno. “That’s been the case the last two or three games.”
Midfielder David Beckham, who would take up the captain's armband in the event Donovan was unable to play, had hope that he would recover just in time.
“I’ve spoke to him a couple of times and it’s just precaution that he’s pulling out training," Beckham said. "If he’s not all right, we’ve got players who will step in and do the job. His health is the most important part.”
A Touch of Brilliance From Marcelo Sarvas
Meanwhile, Marcelo Sarvas had the challenge of breaking through as a starter. The Brazilian midfielder came off the bench in LA's 3-1 win over D.C. United and could be launched into a starting role this weekend, pending Donovan's quad issues.
"It's the same team that played last year," Sarvas told Bueno. "They are doing good and I'm here to add something. Of course I want to play also like everyone here.
"We have 30 players and 30 players want to play so I have to train hard, do my best and wait for my opportunity to come."
Sarvas plays a blue-collar type of football where he keeps his feet on the ground and continues to work hard during training. And Sarvas is aware that when his name is called, it is on him to help get the job done.
"When you do these things the right way, when you train hard, when you work hard, good things come to you,” Sarvas added. “This is just something that I'm doing during the week and then it's coming in the games."