It seems hard to believe that LA Galaxy lie just two games away from another Major League Soccer Championship after the season they’ve endured.
Rewind four months and a return to the increasingly bitter feud between Landon Donovan and David Beckham, a talented axis by which much of LA’s attacking play is based, which was threatening to derail the Galaxy’s season. Eleven draws in their opening 13 games suggested all was not well in the camp.
But fuelled by an increased sense of unity, with bitter spats put to one side, the Galaxy have slowly got their act together. Not that this had everything to do with Beckham and Donovan. The Galaxy defence has tightened up considerably from last season, conceding just 31 goals – half of last year’s total – and seven clean sheets in their last nine regular season games gave a solid platform for success.
If you are solid at the back, simple logic tells you that it only takes one flash of inspiration at the other end to earn you the victory, hence David Beckham’s pinpoint cross for Donovan in the build-up to the winning penalty conversion against Chivas USA last week.
Credit has to go to Beckham; he still hasn’t been forgiven by many Galaxy fans for his extended loan to AC Milan and his apparent lack of loyalty to the cause. But he has ridden the wave of abuse he initially received upon his return from Italy to concentrate on what he is good at: playing football. And don’t forget his appearance against Houston Dynamo this weekend will be at the expense of his beloved English national team. However, credit also to the rest of the squad for ignoring the Beckham circus that accompanies their star player and focusing on the task in hand.
There is still plenty of work to be done. The Dynamo are seeking their third title in four years and often save their best performances for this time of year. Even if Galaxy fall just short, it seems a safe football bet that if you asked their fans back in the July chaos whether this would have been seen as a successful season, they would have said yes.