Well, Major League Soccer, it's time to face the facts. This Los Angeles Galaxy team is a group of individuals on a mission: to return to the MLS Cup and earn a heaping dose of redemption.
They have ice water in their veins and an Anschutz-esque mentality in their eyes. Every single one of them.
And they get their chance to get the muscles flowing one more time before the World Cup breaking by putting the clamps down on the holders of the MLS Cup, Jason Kreis's Real Salt Lake, on Wednesday, June 9, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
Currently, Bruce Arena's Galaxy sit first in both the MLS Western Conference and the league in general with a 10-0-2 record. With a +19 goal differential, LA has one of the stingiest defenses in the league.
They face a reeling Real Salt Lake team that is looking for answers after managing just a scoreless draw with RSL.
Forward Tristan Bowen had a no-nonsense explanation regarding the Galaxy's unbeaten streak.
“It's definitely the competition in practice. Bruce [Arena] has done a great job in getting a group of incredibly competitive guys together,” said Bowen after their 4-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
“We know that we have to fight for our spots and when you get your number called, everyone wants to go out there and compete and show why you belong on the field.”
Of all the players on the roster, only two have yet to play a match for the Galaxy: defender Yohance Marshall (currently on loan) and midfielder David Beckham due to an injury while on loan to AC Milan.
Arena was cautious when asked about whether this was the deepest team he had ever manager.
“I had a team at D.C. United that had seven international players and some of them didn’t start,” said Arena after the Houston match. “What helps here is that we have a veteran roster that do a fabulous job understanding their roles and really know how to push the young players along.
"It is certainly a much improved roster from the one that I inherited.”
The youth on the roster is led by Bowen, who has filled nicely in the absence of Edson Buddle, with two goals on the campaign. Alex Cazumba, Juninho, and Michael Stephens have also played a crucial part in LA's success.
Real Salt Lake is currently second in the MLS Western Conference table with a 6-3-2 record (20 points). Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio is who the Galaxy must neutralize when he has the ball.
Sabario currently has five goals and four assists to his credit so far this season. Other players to watch out for include Fabian Espindola, Javier Morales, Andy Williams, and Kyle Beckerman.
Robbie Findley will be unavailable due to national team duty for Real Salt Lake.
Nick Rimando has made 25 saves in 11 appearances for a 1.00 goals against average. His counterpart, Donovan Ricketts has made 31 saves in his 11 appearances in the net for a 0.27 GAA.
Rio Tinto Stadium will be rocking on Wednesday. The home fans will love nothing more than to take the wheels off the Galaxy heading into the World Cup break.
But for the Galaxy, they need to come together and bring added momentum before the world's biggest sporting event begins.
They have been a cohesive unit with Edson and Landon. They have been a cohesive unit without Edson and Landon. And expect more of the same—without Edson and Landon—in Sandy. Let's try this result.
Los Angeles Galaxy 3, Real Salt Lake 1
Kickoff at Rio Tinto is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., will be live on MLS MatchDay Live, and will also be on tape delay by Fox Sports West at 11:00 p.m.
INS & OUTS:
The Magic Number Is Down To 37...But There's Still A Ways Yet To Go
If we were to use this magic formula, in which we subtract the number of points available from the number of points of the top two teams, we get a magic number.
So, this is what we have:
90 = Total possible points in MLS 2010 season
32 = Points by Galaxy
21 = Points by New York Red Bulls (current second-place team)
90 - 32 - 21 = 37
And if we divide this by three, you are looking at the Galaxy potentially-POTENTIALLY-wrapping up the Supporters' Shield by September, if not mid-August.
That's how furious the pace has been at this point for the Galaxy. It has been torrid.