David Beckham won’t be playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday when they visit Seattle Sounders FC for the right to advance to the MLS Cup. Neither will Cobi Jones, nor Alexi Lalas, nor dozens of other now-departed players who are part of Galaxy history.
However, L.A. coach Bruce Arena said he believes some of those players’ accomplishments are relevant to the attitude the Galaxy will take onto the pitch for the MLS Western Conference final at CenturyLink Field.
“It just creates an environment around our club where we’re focused on winning championships, and we’re a couple of games away from doing that,” Arena said Friday. “We’re on the same page. We believe that that’s a charge of our club: to win championships, and our focus each and every year is on the MLS Cup.”
The Galaxy is tied with D.C. United with a league-best four MLS Cups, and the organization has been promoting a “First to Five” campaign during these playoffs.
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Seattle coach Sigi Schmid — who led the Galaxy to its 2002 MLS Cup — said he believes any advantage L.A. gets from its glittering history comes mostly from current players who had a hand in their 2011 and 2012 championships.
“They’ve got a lot of players that have been involved in the last two that they’ve won,” Schmid said. “Obviously, (Robbie) Keane and (Landon) Donovan being two of the key players in that, but you have (Marcelo) Sarvas and you’ve got Omar (Gonzalez) and you’ve got a few guys there. They’re definitely confident, and that experience helps them.”
The Galaxy sounded exceptionally confident last weekend after opening the two-game, aggregate-score series with a 1-0 win in their home leg at Carson, California.
“We’ve been (to Seattle) twice this year: thoroughly dominate in the first game (a 3-0 win), and we were the much better team for 82 minutes of the second game (a 2-0 loss),” Donovan said. “We are full of confidence going there. We are going to get their best shot, and we look forward to it.”
Whenever this season ends, Donovan will join the ranks for retired Galaxy greats such as Beckham, Jones and Lalas. That means his MLS playing career will end either Sunday or Dec. 7 at the MLS Cup final.
Keane acknowledged it would be nice to send Donovan off with another championship, but that the prime motivation is for the club rather than any individual.
“I’m sure Landon would like to go out on a high, like everybody else would,” he said. “But like I said, we’re not here to mollycoddle one player. We’re here for the whole team and the whole squad, and that’s the most important thing for more since I was a player. It’s always about the team.”
The Sounders shortened training to less than an hour Friday due to heavy rain at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. “We got, I’d say, 75 percent of what we wanted to do at training done,” Schmid said. “We got through our warmup, we got through the one phase and got through what we wanted to do also offense versus defense. And we just decided not to play eight-v-eight more because of the way the field was.” Schmid said the colder weather expected to move in over the weekend could be a disadvantage for warm-weather L.A., but he repeated his belief that going from warm weather to cold is generally easier than the other way around. … Schmid continued to refuse to give health updates. However, Seattle midfielder Brad Evans told a national conference call that midfielder Osvaldo Alonso’s “recovery has been great this week” and “I look forward to having him in the midfield on Sunday.” … MLS announced that Seattle’s Eriq Zavaleta is among four players who have graduated from the Generation Adidas program and therefore are subject to selection in the coming expansion draft. Defender Damion Lowe retains GA status and remains automatically protected.