The 2002 MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy (9-12-9, 36 pts - 4th Western Conference) open their run in the playoffs on November 1 when they host the San Jose Earthquakes (14-7-9, 51 pts. - 1st Western Conference) in the first leg of their home-and-home, aggregate-goal Western Conference Semifinal series at The Home Depot Center. The return leg of the series will be played at Spartan Stadium in San Jose on November 9.
The two-match series concludes a string of four straight matches between the heated rivals, with the Galaxy managing a home win and a road tie in those contests.
Los Angeles has played 36 all-time playoff games, recording 21 wins, 12 losses and 3 ties. The Galaxy captured their first MLS Cup title last year vs. the New England Revolution, after three previous losses in MLS Cup finals.
The Galaxy finished a historic inaugural season at The Home Depot Center, averaging 21,983 fans over 15 regular season games (81.4 percent occupancy), including three sellout crowds of 27,000 fans (Opening Day, July 4 and Season Finale/Mauricio Cienfuegos Tribute). The Galaxy have welcomed a total of 346,897 fans through the turnstiles to date, including team exhibitions (China) and Open Cup (Fresno).
The Galaxy's attendance this season is the best for any team in MLS since the league's inaugural season (1996). The figure represents the second-best average in team history, eclipsed only by the team's 1996 average of 28,916. The first team to hit the one million (1998) and two million (2002) fan plateaus, the Galaxy have led the league in attendance during four of eight seasons, and hold the top all-time regular season average (21,083), more than 3,000 per game ahead of the next best team (MetroStars).
Attendance numbers in 2003 season represent the core soccer community, unaided by a "big game." The traditional July 4 match at the Rose Bowl -- averaging roughly 50,000 fans each year -- greatly influenced the Galaxy's average number in prior seasons.
Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, a leading candidate for 2003 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors, has signed a new multi-year deal with MLS. No terms were disclosed.
Hartman helped lead L.A. to all three major titles in the region: the 2002 MLS Cup, 2001 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and 2000 CONCACAF Champions Cup. A member of the Galaxy since 1997, he has been the club’s No. 1 keeper, helping the team reach the playoffs in each of his seven MLS seasons.
Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz finished the 2003 MLS Regular Season with 15 goals, tying him with the Revolution's Taylor Twellman for the most in MLS. After leading the league a year ago with 24 markers, Ruiz becomes the first player to be the top goal-scorer in the league in his first two seasons. Ruiz narrowly lost out to Wizards midfielder Preki for the overall points crown.