CARSON, Calif. – They’ve all been big games lately for the LA Galaxy, and Friday’s encounter with the Colorado Rapids at The Home Depot Center (8 p.m., KDOC, Univision Deportes, AM 1150, 1220 AM, LIVECHAT) is no different.
The Galaxy, continuing their steady rise up the Western Conference standings, are fourth in the West but only three points behind third-place Real Salt Lake and four in back of second-place Seattle. STANDINGS
Head coach Bruce Arena acknowledged the importance of Friday’s game.
“It would put us in a nice position,” he said. “It would tie us with Salt Lake for third, which would be quite an accomplishment after the start and being told by a variety of journalists we wouldn’t make the playoffs.”
He also admitted to watching the standings.
“I don’t necessarily always know where everyone is and their points and all,” he said. “But you do the math, as they say the arithmetic, that’s the new word now, you kind of generally know. This time of year you should know because everyone’s battling for playoff position.”
It was on May 26 when the Galaxy lost at Houston 2-1 to fall to 3-8-2 and the postseason appeared all but lost. But the defending MLS Cup champions have rebounded nicely and sit six points ahead of Vancouver, fifth in the West and owners of the last playoff spot in the conference.
Midfielder Mike Magee said he was watching the standings back when the Galaxy was reeling, but he hasn’t doesn’t done much of that lately with the team’s improved play.
“Now that we’re playing the right way and I’ve been in the league for 10 years,” he said, “I know if we take care of business that’s all that matters.
“We’ve kind of raised the bar on the season and our atmosphere every day. Now we can’t let down; we’ve got to keep this going.”
The Galaxy will be taking on a Rapids team in a rematch of a game on April 21 in Commerce City, Colo., which the Galaxy won 2-1. The Rapids have struggled under first-year coach Oscar Pareja, who was hired in January to replace Gary Smith (who moved on to England League One side Stevenage), and haven’t won an MLS road match since a 2-0 victory over FC Dallas on May 6. Colorado is 0-7 away from home in league play since then, but the Rapids are coming off a 3-0 victory at home over the Portland Timbers on Sept. 5.
Magee said the Galaxy, which has six games left in the regular season, needs to get used to playing big games from here on out.
“You always know the team that ends up winning the MLS Cup is the team that goes into the postseason hot,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what we did in the middle of the season, it doesn’t matter what we did in the beginning of the season. All that matters is how we finish strong.
“Every game here on out is massive. Even if we don’t get points, it’s just keep raising the bar and getting everybody fit and mentally ready for a playoff push.”