A Modern Family: The LA Galaxy's Path to a 5th MLS Cup

As the team physician and an avid sports fan, I can truly appreciate the process in how the LA Galaxy won its 5th MLS Cup. It once again demonstrates that the life of sport and the sport of life are forever linked.

In today's world of sports, we far too often hear and read about the egregious improprieties that are giving athletes and sports a black eye. A dark shadow seems to be slowly blanketing the many outstanding efforts and contributions of athletes both on and off the field.

To quote the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.'

In this case, the light the LA Galaxy found was in the family they formed during their epic pursuit of the MLS Cup. I've always said success in life is from the evolution and development of relationships. In this story, it starts with relationships that progress to family that manifests in winning a championship. Let us take a closer look at the essence of this team.

The LA Galaxy is truly a melting pot of individuals from different countries, languages, cultures, races and sexual preferences. In essence, this is our version of today's 'Modern Family.'

With all successful organizations, it starts with leadership. Legendary Head Coach Bruce Arena and Club President Chris Klein have established a thematic mission and vision approach to the team with an unwavering commitment to excellence and success. As a priority value, there is an unyielding support for each player's dedication to their families. This concept was happily embraced by the players to say the least - with nine babies being born during the season! Luca Delagarza was born with a severe cardiac anomaly and succumbed to this illness after attempts at life-saving surgery. Adversity is no stranger to any family and in this situation the collective group responded with a resounding commitment to each other. Luca's name appeared on signs, t-shirts, and the backs of hands as it was embedded in the hearts and minds of us all. The loss and death of any child is so heart wrenching that it affects everybody at all levels and at all times. Once again, the family responded with a Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM) attitude, both on and off the field. Comforted by each other – there was a sense of calm, recovery and renewal. It was obvious to all that witnessed and experienced these moments that this would change our lives forever.

In any professional sports team, the day to day routine of training and competing in games is a journey of stresses with its fair share of highs and lows. This year, the Galaxy family responded to all of its challenges like a finely tuned machine. Injuries? No problem. A few losses? We can overcome. The family endured, responded and absorbed in a systematic progression. Landon Donovan, arguably the best player in the history of American soccer, was rejected from the national team just prior to the World Cup in Brazil. He returned to his Galaxy family of friends, coaches, mentors and supporters where he emphatically responded against the Philadelphia Union by scoring two goals and breaking the MLS goal scoring record. He was also selected to be a member of the All-Star game playing against Bayern Munich where he was recognized as the game's Most Valuable Player after scoring the winning goal.

The sport of soccer's first openly gay player Robbie Rogers' sexual preference use to be a story. This year, the only story was that he became the starting left back. As a son and brother to the Galaxy Family, Robbie is a successful player, trusted teammate and a significant part of their cohesive group.

The season journey continued on with never losing sight of the goal and objective of winning a championship. Coach Arena fostered this collective vision and clearly defined and anticipated the path ahead, but this was not to be an easy feat. It required summoning the family strength, courage, determination and commitment to hard work and perseverance. This roadmap for success led to the MLS Cup and the championship game on December 7th, 2014. It was the ultimate struggle and challenge. The New England Revolution, the newcomer trying to achieve its first championship, and the LA Galaxy, an experienced team fighting to remain king of the hill. The Galaxy appeared to more talented but the tenacious Revolution would not yield. It was not until overtime and the 111th minute when the MLS' MVP Robbie Keane scored the winning goal with a classic finish. It was the culmination of will, optimism and fortitude. The team knew if they played as 'one' this would be their fate. In doing so, the Galaxy family became victors at the end of their journey. Amidst all the adversity we as a society face today in this world, take a moment to appreciate a great sport's story of today's 'Modern Family' and how it succeeds in spite of the trials and tribulations in the sport of life.