Well, how about that.
It took them the entire regular season, but Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy defeated FC Dallas 2-1 to finally claim the Major League Soccer Supporters' Shield. With the honors go a free pass to the group stage of next year's CONCACAF Champions League. At least they won't risk being embarrassed by Puerto Rico again in the preliminary round.
"We needed this game," Arena said. "We haven't been in a game where we've been forced to win, forced to show up and play hard and fight and scrap for everything we can get. That's the kind of game that should give our team and players a lot of confidence.
"We … had to fight for our lives, basically. We raised our level of play, our competitiveness, our mentality. And it's something we're going to have to have for the playoffs if we have any interest in trying to get back to the MLS Cup."
Interestingly, for 11 excruciating minutes, it seemed as if the regular season would crumble in unceremonious fashion for the G's, who haven't had the finest second half of a season. Atiba Harris exploited a hole in the backline and made it 1-0 to the Hoops in the 22nd minute.
Match referee Mark Geiger probably decided to make up for Ricardo Salazar's vendetta with Los Angeles by playing advantage to LA in the 33rd minute, David Beckham was there to bury an equalizer in the 33rd minute of play to make it 1-1.
"Everyone was fighting for each other tonight," Beckham said. "That was the difference. Everyone was looking at our character. So it was important that we had a game like this tonight."
And the unlikeliest of heroes—Juninho—scored the final goal of the regular season with his second of the year in the 46th minute of play to make it 2-1. That was fast.
But the reason why Los Angeles won this game, and the Shield, was their clockwork defending. Now, we haven't been seeing this for a third of the regular season, give or take a few matches. We have been seeing the likes of Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin, Todd Dunivant and A.J. De La Garza sleep in the back and fail to shut down the runs and the pace from their opposition.
But I have noticed all this year that once one player on defense begins to dispossess their counterpart on offense, others in the defensive third take notice and follow suit. It becomes contagious, almost surreal.
Eventually the team becomes a machine. It becomes a machine that operates on breaking up possession, marking each player that they are assigned to, intercepting passes and making clean challenges for the ball. And when it doesn't breakdown, the machine becomes a formidable force.
In the second half, the Galaxy played like a machine, and this is what they must do in order to ignite their MLS Cup prospects.
A rock solid defense, combined with resiliency, is what separates the haves from the have-nots. Tonight, on a rainy Sunday evening at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, the Los Angeles Galaxy proved to the 24,000-plus in attendance why they are MLS Supporters' Shield material.
Let's see if their defense will make them MLS Cup material.
INS & OUTS
"You can have the gilded boots, Wonder Boy; we'll take the Shield"
For the record, 1. the San Jose Earthquakes cheated by having two games in one week, and 2. Chivas USA is so terrible that Jorge Vergara is a buffoon for letting this failed experiment of a franchise flounder with its rent bills coming after them like those nagging creditors on your voice mail. But Edson Buddle probably won't mind finishing with 17 goals compared to Chris Wondolowski's 18.
This victory over FC Dallas just shows the diversity of weapons Los Angeles has available. You see, it doesn't have to necessarily be Buddle, Landon Donovan or Beckham to hammer home a game winner for the Shield winners. It just takes somebody with the word "HERBALIFE" on their chest to hammer one home. Not too difficult to comprehend.
Chicken Thief No. 12: Atiba Harris...or maybe not
Well, in all actuality, Harris did prevent the shutout by sucker-punching the G's in the 22nd minute of play, but he didn't steal all the chickens. There was one stash of foul that he couldn't touch, and it seems that the Galaxy front office was ready for this and hid it where he couldn't see it.
The fans got free chicken in spite of Harris preventing a shutout. You fail to steal all the chickens and you get a yellow card to boot. Well done, that man; he sure accomplished something.
Youth Academy Update
The Los Angeles Galaxy Youth Academy Under-18's suffered their biggest defeat of the season: a 5-0 mollywopping by the Seattle Sounders Academy Under-18s on Saturday. This probably will be added motivation for the senior side (more on that in a bit).
They did rebound from that appalling display with a 2-0 victory over Crossfire Premier.
As for the Under-16's, it was a much better effort as they defeated Seattle 3-0. On Sunday, they held Crossfire Premier to a 1-1 draw.
Next up for the Los Angeles Galaxy Under-18s and Under-16s is a trip up north. On Saturday, Oct. 30, the Academy takes on the San Jose Earthquakes Youth Academy. Perhaps some payback for the senior side's shortcomings could be in order...
Kickoff for the Under-18s is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. PT while the Under-16s match is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. PT. Both matches will be at San Jose's Nutrilite Training Facility.
On Halloween, the Young G's clash with Development Academy powerhouse Cal Odyssey. Kickoff for the Under-18s is scheduled for 8:00 a.m. PT while the Under-16s clash at 10:00 a.m. PT. Both matches will be at Keith Tice Memorial Park in Fresno, California.
Quick change in the rain!?
Beckham apparently had to get his shirt and shorts changed on the sidelines after he suffered a gash in the first half, causing blood to stain them. It was a pretty ambitious display, and the ladies were swooning over his physique.
Heh, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that.
Up next...the Sounders.
Next up for the Los Angeles Galaxy senior side is the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Western Conference Semifinals. The Galaxy will look to exact payback for their US Open Cup demise (although, they DID put out a watered-down roster), while Seattle will look to exact revenge for their futility in the regular season.
Will there be redemption on the way for Sigi Schmid's club? Or will the coaching genius of Bruce Almighty force the possibility of more refunds for Qwest Field's home supporters?
A full preview of this home-and-home series will be on tap at Bleacher Report and on the View from Victoria Street.