If there's one thing that the L.A. Galaxy's CONCACAF Champions League loss to Toronto tells us, it's that Los Angeles is essentially expected to win every game they play. The shock, which at times seemed insulting to a much-improved TFC side, puts into perspective the type of pedestal last year's MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield winners operate from.
But don't try selling any of the underdog script to D.C. United's players as they head west for a Hollywood showdown on Sunday. The Black-and-Red simply aren't buying it.
"Every season is a new season," said veteran defender Robbie Russell. "I don't think you can point to anybody being an underdog just yet. We have to look at it as this is a brand new game and a chance for us to be the aggressors."
Though it won't come easy, Ben Olsen's side should have a chance to go toe-to-toe with a Galaxy team likely to rest several key players following their CCL misadventure. With their shot at an important piece of silverware now gone - and still in search of their first MLS win of 2012 - a stacked Los Angeles squad will carry an unfamiliar characteristic into Sunday's match. Desperation.
"Those guys are definitely not going to be a pushover in L.A., because they do not want to lose another league game at home," noted Dwayne De Rosario. "The main thing for us is to match their intensity. We can't approach the game like we did against Kansas City, sitting back too much."
One player who certainly won't need the underdog storyline to find motivation against Los Angeles is midfielder Danny Cruz. A starter for Houston in MLS Cup last fall, Cruz saw his first shot at a championship stolen away by Major League Soccer's Hollywood gang.
"For me it was a bit surreal the first time I played them, especially considering it was MLS Cup," Cruz admitted. "Yeah, they have Beckham, they have Keane, and they have Donovan. But it's just another game, they are a team that can be beat."
"You want to go out and take them down, there's no doubt about it. We'll have that approach," added Josh Wolff. "We need to understand we have good enough players out on the field that we can go out there and compete and play right along side of them."
Sunday's kickoff between United and the Galaxy is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST. The match can be seen on Galavision.