During the press conference following the Galaxy's 2-2 draw vs. the Sounders, Bruce Arena was going through his usual assortment of facial expressions when Adam Serrano asked Bruce about his thoughts concerning the Landon Donovan ceremonies.
Bruce's demeanor shifted ever so slightly, as he sensed an opening and took it.
"Yeah I think we need to start focusing on playing. We are real pleased that the process is now complete and we are entering the last regular season game and then the playoffs and hopefully we and Landon [Donovan] can focus on that."
I found it interesting that Bruce described Donovan's retirement celebration as if it were like buying a house. Obviously Arena wasn't very happy about the spectacle.
The fact of the matter is, Bruce got his emotions out of the way when Landon announced his retirement. On Sunday Arena wanted three points, which LA were unable to pick up. Which leads me to wonder: Did the Galaxy go too far when celebrating Landon's final regular season home game?
I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, after a lukewarm farewell with the U.S. Men's National Team, clearly the Galaxy family wanted to give Landon the celebration he deserved.
That afternoon, the #ThanksLD hashtag was plastered all over the stadium. Personal friend John Ondrasik surprised Landon with a heartfelt tribute to his childhood and playing career. Landon's favorite group Boyz II Men performed the national anthem. The fans honored Landon with a card display and cross stadium chant. And once the final whistle blew, Landon accepted gifts from the supporter's groups before briefly speaking and calling it a day.
The Galaxy organization went all-out, and succeeded. And yet, something was off.
The fans were in a festive mood, but I wonder how many were aware the Supporter's Shield was at stake, which had strangely taken on a secondary importance inside the StubHub Center. When Five for Fighting was performing, I was admittedly overtaken with emotion, but staring at that grand piano, I couldn't help but think how much the scene resembled the Apollo Creed Ivan Drago fight from Rocky IV. And how dangerous it can be to celebrate before an important match.
An often under-appreciated facet of the game is the mental strength that is necessary to maintain focus during a match. For the Galaxy players, not getting distracted requires an immense amount of concentration that can easily be interrupted, a fact that may have eluded the organizers of the ceremonies.
By celebrating Landon's career before a ball had been kicked, was the Galaxy's focus disrupted as a result? Too many players had poor individual performances. Landon was shut down. And since when does Omar Gonzalez get a red card?
I actually felt a little sorry for Landon. How's he supposed to concentrate on the game when he literally has his life flashing before his eyes?
Of course, none of this takes away from the Sounders, who were excellent. About time they conjured up some mental toughness.
It also goes without saying that it's the Galaxy's responsibility to perform regardless of the circumstances. That being said, for Bruce's sake, LA needs to focus on a 5th MLS Cup.