After a 4-0 thrashing at the feet of Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions league quarterfinals, the LA Galaxy open the 2016 MLS season by hosting D.C. United at StubHub Center on Sunday.
For the Galaxy, this is expected to be the the season of vindication and redemption. Bruce Arena's men have a deep motivation to succeed because of what happened last season against Seattle, and after a tame performance in Torreon, restoring a sense of reliability comes first.
Properly addressing the defensive problems of last season was one thing, but refusing to confront the reality of Tuesday's defeat would be a mistake. The exact scale of the Galaxy's first half implosion against Santos Laguna was reminiscent of last season's late collapse.
As such, that should deepen the spark and desire for the Galaxy to win their first game in front of their own fans and do it in a convincing fashion.
Meanwhile, for D.C. United it is an early chance to assert their readiness to improve from their Eastern Conference Semifinal finish from last season. However, Ben Olson's side received a lot of criticism following their CONCACAF Champions League exit to Queretaro.
There is a sense that among MLS teams, D.C. United got the most forgiving match-up with Queretaro. They came within several shots of taking the lead in Mexico, but after dealing with a 3-1 aggregate defeat, they directly referred to it as part of preseason.
First impressions matter a lot. A strong outcome would go a long way towards boosting the morale in the Galaxy and it would strengthen their early credentials as title contenders.
Let's be clear, when one considers the depth in the Galaxy's roster, they'll be expected to lift the trophy at the end of the season. But to do that, will likely have to overcome some big challenges and it all starts here for the Galaxy.
D.C. United 1-0 LA Galaxy - March 28, 2015 - MLS
Christ Pontius scored a stoppage-time header to stun the Galaxy to a 1-0 defeat at RFK Stadium.
Galaxy (4-4-2): Kennedy; Rogers, DeLaGarza, Van Damme, Cole; dos Santos, De Jong, Gerrard, Boateng; Zardes, Keane
D.C. United(4-4-2): Dykstra; Kemp, Boswell, Birnbaum, Franklin; Vincent, Sarvas, DeLeon, Nyarko; Rolfe, Espindola