CARSON, Calif. (Monday, October 31, 2011) – Following Sunday’s 1-0 win over New York at Red Bull Arena, the LA Galaxy are now on the verge of advancing to and hosting a third straight Western Conference Championship. With a win or a draw in the second leg of their Western Conference Semifinal Series with the Red Bulls on Thursday night, the Galaxy would move one step closer to a return to MLS Cup.
Undefeated at home in all competitions this season, the Galaxy have only lost three home playoff games in their history and are 13-1-1 at home in the opening round of the postseason. In 2010, the Galaxy won the first leg of their Conference Semifinal Series 1-0 over Seattle on the road before returning to claim a 2-1 win and advance to the Conference Championship.
Tickets for Thursday’s game, which is presented by Pechanga Resort & Casino, are on sale now starting at $30. That game kicks off at 8 p.m. and can be seen live nationally on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes as well as online at ESPN3.com.
If the Galaxy advance past the Red Bulls, they will face the winner of the series between Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Championship. Real Salt Lake won the first leg of that series 3-0 at home on Saturday and will now look to advance to the next round of the playoffs if they can maintain their advantage in Wednesday’s second leg in Seattle.
Galaxy Injury Report
OUT – Sean Alvarado (Right Knee – Surgery), Leonardo (Right Knee – Surgery)
DOUBTFUL – None
QUESTIONABLE – David Beckham (Back Spasms), Gregg Berhalter (Right Foot – Sprain), Bryan Jordan (Left Middle Finger Tendon – Rupture)
PROBABLE – None
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS ON THE ROAD: Since MLS adopted the current postseason format in 2003, the Galaxy have reached the playoffs six times and are now 4-1-1 in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinal Series. Sunday’s 1-0 win at Red Bull Arena was the fourth time that they have played the first leg of their series on the road, going 2-1-1 in those four games. In 2004, the Galaxy lost at Colorado before going on to win the second leg and the series at home, while in 2009, the Galaxy played to a 2-2 draw in the first leg of their series on the road against Chivas USA before winning the second leg at home 1-0 to take the series 3-2 on aggregate. Last year, the Galaxy beat Seattle 1-0 at Qwest Field en route to a 3-1 series win on aggregate.
Since the start of the 2003 MLS Cup Playoffs, 28 teams have won the first game of their Conference Semifinal Series, including four teams this year. Of the first 24, 13 advanced to the Conference Championship. Additionally, coming into this season, just seven teams had won the first leg of their series on the road and of those seven, five advanced to their Conference Championship, including the Galaxy last season.
In addition to the Galaxy, Houston and Sporting Kansas City also won the first game of their Conference Semifinal Series on the road on Sunday.
MAGEE STEPS UP AGAIN: Mike Magee continued his finest season in a Galaxy uniform, scoring the only goal in Sunday’s 1-0 win over his former club, the New York Red Bulls. (WATCH) Limited to just three postseason appearances in six years with New York, Magee played the full 90 minutes in midfield on Sunday, beating Frank Rost with a left-footed shot in the 15th minute. Since joining the Galaxy in 2009, Magee has started all eight of the postseason games that the Galaxy have played, scoring three times, which are tied for the club lead in that time.
Magee, who did not score in the postseason before being traded to the Galaxy, also scored the Galaxy’s first goal in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs, tallying 14 minutes into a 2-2 road draw with Chivas USA. He is now tied for second on the team with eight goals in all competitions this season, scoring five times in the regular season while adding one in the playoffs, one in the Champions League and one in the U.S. Open Cup.
SWEET SIXTY: In addition to being the game-winning goal, Mike Magee’s first half tally was also the Galaxy’s 60th goal in all competitions this season. In 43 games this season, the Galaxy now have 60 goals scored compared to just 36 goals allowed. That means that the Galaxy are averaging 1.4 goals per contest this season while allowing just 0.8 goals.
In 2010, the Galaxy scored 51 goals for an average of 1.4 goals per game in all competitions, which was up from the 1.2 goals per game that they scored in 2009. Just as the Galaxy attack has improved over the last three years, so has the clubs defense which allowed 0.97 goals per game in 2009 and 1.00 goal per game in 2010 before conceding just 0.84 goals per game this year with 36 goals given up in 43 games.
SEEING RED: If the Galaxy are to knock off the Red Bulls on Thursday night, they will have to do so without the services of Juninho, who was sent off by referee Alex Prus following an altercation at the end of Sunday’s game. Third on the team with 38 games played in all competitions so far this year, Juninho has been shown three of the six red cards handed out to Galaxy players this year. He was shown two yellow cards in the 0-0 draw at Toronto FC on April 13 as well as late in the 2-0 win over Alajuelense in the Champions League on August 25. All three of his red cards have come in the 88th minute or later of matches.
Following Juninho’s red card, the Galaxy have now been shown five postseason red cards in their history. Of those five, four have come against New York while the other came in 1999 against Colorado. In the 2001 MLS Quarterfinals, the Galaxy knocked out the then-MetroStars in a three-game series and had a player sent off in each game, with Paul Caligiuri, Greg Vanney and Danny Califf all being shown red.
New York’s Rafa Marquez was also sent off after the game after throwing the ball at the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan. He is the first player to be sent off against LA in the postseason since October 10, 2001 when Chicago’s Evan Whitfield was red carded midway through the second half of a 1-1 draw at Solider Field in Chicago.
FIRST FOR SAUNDERS: Josh Saunders had a memorable first postseason start in his career, making five saves to shutout the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Sunday. Making just his second playoff appearance and first since MLS Cup 2009, Saunders made one save in the first half and four more after the break for his 12th shutout in all competitions this season.
A two-time MLS Cup winner, Saunders only previous postseason appearance came in MLS Cup 2009 when he replaced the injured Donovan Ricketts for the final 54 minutes and the eventual penalty shootout loss to Real Salt Lake.
POSTSEASON DEBUTS: Making his first appearance since straining an adductor muscle while on international duty with Ireland on October 7, Robbie Keane made his postseason debut on Sunday against the Red Bulls. Signed from Tottenham Hotspur in August, Keane played 83 minutes up front, starting alongside Chad Barrett and nearly giving the Galaxy a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute, only to see his curling right footed shot strike the right post. He finished the game with two shots before being replaced late on by Chris Birchall.
While Keane was making his postseason debut, the two forwards that he was paired with during his time on the field, Chad Barrett and Adam Cristman, were each making their playoff debuts in a Galaxy uniform. Barrett played for the Chicago Fire in the 2005 and 2007 MLS Cup Playoffs while Adam Cristman helped the New England Revolution reach MLS Cup in 2007, but neither had played in the postseason since before Sunday.
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