Photo by ISIPhotos.com
BY ADAM SERRANO
Wire to wire this season, the Los Angeles Galaxy have held the league's best record and on Sunday night were finally rewarded.
The Galaxy clinched the Supporters Shield with a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas, in front of 24,993 at the Home Depot Center. The victory helped the Galaxy finish three points clear of Real Salt Lake in the race for the Supporters Shield. It was the second time all season in which the Galaxy were able to battle back from an opening deficit. Following last week's disappointing loss to Colorado, to battle back against Dallas was just what the Galaxy needed going into the playoffs.
"We needed this game, we haven’t been in a game where we have been forced to win, forced to show up and play hard and fight and scrap for everything we could get and we did that tonight," said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. "I am really pleased and that is the kind of game that should give our team and players a lot of confidence as we go into a difficult series against Seattle.”
Atiba Harris opened the scoring for Dallas with a header that beat Donovan Ricketts after receiving a splendid cross from Eric Alexander. With the dreams of the Shield slipping away, Landon Donovan provided the spark that the Galaxy needed to get back into the match. After appearing to shove Jackson Gonclaves to the ground, Donovan delivered a pass to David Beckham, who fired the shot in from 20-yards-out to tie the score.
After the Beckham goal, Los Angeles was energized heading into the half and began to assert control over Dallas. The Galaxy took the lead just moments after the start of the second half when Juninho fired a howler from 18-yards out that beat Dario Sala. The club turns its focus now to a first round date with the Seattle Sounders. The Galaxy open up that series on Sunday, October 31st at Qwest Field. Los Angels won the regular season series with the Sounders, but have not played Seattle since July before the club made their dramatic run to the playoffs.
“We have played well against them, but they are a different team than they were earlier in the year. We won both games by 7-1 total goals, " said Donovan. "We will confident going in there, but they are very good [at Qwest] and their crowd will be lively. I am looking forward to it, I can’t wait.”
Despite the loss, the night was not entirely negative for Schaellas Hyndman's men. The club welcomed back goalkeeper Kevin Hartman to the starting 18 after a five week absence due to injury. Following the match, Hyndman admitted that he expects Hartman to play a role in the club's playoff series with Real Salt Lake. Dallas hosts the RSL on October 30th at Pizza Hut Park.
FC Dallas split its series with the defending champions this year, with both teams winning at home, 2-0. With less than a week until its match up, the onus will be on Dallas to correct the mistakes from tonight's tough loss.
“It was a difficult game, we couldn’t get the win tonight because we made mistakes," said midfielder David Ferreira. "Now, we have to rest and work on correcting the mistakes this week during training because we know that we can’t commit the same mistakes against Real Salt Lake because this upcoming game is decisive.”
Although the Galaxy took home the Supporters Shield, the night was not a celebration for everyone. By failing to score a goal in match against Dallas, Edson Buddle failed in his quest to win the Golden Boot. San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski won the award with 18 goals. Following the match, Donovan stated that he felt it was Buddle, who was the better goal scorer throughout the season.
"Awards like that are always disappointing because in the end, Edson gets punished for making the World Cup team," said Donovan. "Wondolowski was there all year and had an opportunity to play more games, taking nothing away from [Wondolowski] because he did great this week to win it, but from day one to now, Edson Buddle has been the best player in the league."