New England Soccer Today

Road to MLS Cup: Adam Cristman

It didn’t take long for Adam Cristman to realize that he was in the midst of something special this year.

Only weeks into his first season as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy, the fifth-year striker witnessed something he hadn’t seen since his rookie year: the hallmarks of a team destined for greatness.

“At the beginning of the year, I saw a lot of similarities between this L.A. team and the New England team that I was fortunate enough to be on for two years,” said Cristman, who spent his first two MLS seasons (2007-08) with the Revs. “All those guys were in great form. They were a great team, a good unit, and there were a lot of talented guys. I think the same thing is true here in L.A.”

Even though the New England teams of the mid-2000s were perennial contenders, Cristman acknowledges one major difference between the his former team and his current one.

“I think there’s just a different gear here,” said Cristman. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team that’s been more focused from Day 1 from top to bottom. It’s really impressive how everybody’s on the same page and focused for the ultimate goal.”

Focused from the start, indeed. The Galaxy got a clean break out of the gate in 2011 and never looked back. And as the team coasted to its second consecutive Supporters’ Shield trophy, Cristman couldn’t help but realize how fortunate he was after coming to the West Coast in search of a chance to get some playing time.

“I’ve been struggling with injuries for the past three and a half years,” said Cristman. “It was a just another fresh start with a new team and trying to get myself healthy. ”

He did just that and the Galaxy benefited, down the stretch and in CONCACAF Champions League group play. As the season approached autumn, the 26-year-old striker became a reliable option up top for a potent attack, just as he did in New England during his rookie and sophomore seasons.

Although it’s been four years since his last trip to the MLS Cup, Cristman, now a seasoned pro, doesn’t see many differences between his first trip to the title game and this year’s visit – except for one notable exception.

“The major difference is the fact that (when I was in) New England, we had to travel to D.C., (so) there was a lot more travel involved,” said Cristman. “We don’t have to do any traveling (this time) and we’re training at home. Our daily routine for the week will be about the same up until the weekend.”

Posting the league’s best regular season record and having the luxury of playing the Cup final at their home park, it’s not surprising that the smart money may point to the Galaxy winning on Sunday. But Cristman knows from experience it would be naive to overlook the never-say-die Dynamo when the stakes are at their highest.

“They’re a good team. They’re a fighting, scrappy team and every Houston team has been like that since I’ve been in the league,” said Cristman, who witnessed Houston’s last championship celebration unfold as he and his Revolution teammates walked off the RFK Stadium pitch in dejection back in 2007. “They fight, they work hard, and that’s what they know how to do. It’s going to be a tough game for us.”

It was also tough for Cristman to hear the recent news about the man who drafted him. After the Revolution suffered through two losing seasons, manager Steve Nicol – who picked the University of Virginia forward in the fourth round (48th overall) of the 2007 MLS SuperDraft – parted ways with the club shortly after the conclusion of the 2011 regular season.

“I was disappointed for Stevie,” said Cristman. “I really enjoyed (playing for him). He was a great guy and a great manager. I’m still thankful for the opportunity he gave me, and the confidence he gave me to allow me to go out and do what I do.”

And that confidence has steered him back to another Cup tie some four years later. Despite the injury setbacks and the constant shuffling (four teams in five seasons), the striker has finally settled back into his groove. And with only 90 minutes between him and a Cup victory, Cristman summed up his first season with the Galaxy succinctly.

“It’s been a good year,” said Cristman. “I’m happy to be healthy again and contributing.”

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