February 27, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Los Angeles Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. - There has been a popular topic of discussion among LA Galaxy coaches and players during the preseason, but it may not be the obvious one.
The subject matter surprisingly has not been about winning a historic third consecutive MLS Cup.
"No, never," striker Robbie Keane said after training Monday when asked how often talk of a third straight championship had arisen. "You can't do that."
Instead, what they have talked about ahead of Sunday's regular season opener against the Chicago Fire at The Home Depot Center (2 p.m. PT, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, UniMas, LIVE CHAT) is avoiding a repeat of their disastrous start to the 2012 season.
The Galaxy, coming off their third of four MLS championships in 2011, started poorly, to say the least, a year ago. They were 3-8-2 and last in the Western Conference before launching their stunning drive to the title.
"We were a mess last year for whatever reason," head coach Bruce Arena said.
Said veteran defender Sean Franklin, "We talked about last year and how we came out and we don't want to start like that. Everyone was pretty positive this preseason. It's all about starting off on the right foot this year."
Arena said he was generally pleased with the progress of the club, which went 5-1-1 in the preseason. The team, aside from foot surgeries to rookie forward Gyasi Zardes and second-year midfielder Kenney Walker, was pretty much free of serious injuries.
"I think they've had a good camp," Arena said. "We've limited the injuries. For the most part the camp has been real good, and guys have moved along at the right pace.
"We're getting a little better each week."
Left back Todd Dunivant, about to start his 11th MLS season, said the mood of the team is different from a year ago at this time.
"Just the vibe of the group wasn't good," he said, referring to the start of the 2012 season. "We didn't really get much of a break, and I think 2011 took a lot out of us. It took a while to get over that.
"I think we've had more time off, a shorter preseason and I think that helps."
Keane said he is confident in this year's squad, despite it no longer includes David Beckham and still is awaiting the return of Landon Donovan, who remains on an extended break from the game and isn't expected back until next month.
"You always have to be confident. As long as we don't have the start that we did last season," he said with a laugh. "Then we'll be OK.
"Last season wasn't good enough at the start, but the end obviously was very good."