CARSON, Calif. – The Supporters' Shield might be out of reach, but nothing else appears to be for the LA Galaxy, who have gone 10-3-2 since mid-June, climbing out of the Western Conference cellar toward a near-certain playoff berth.
The Galaxy (13-11-4) can pull into third place in the West, ahead of Real Salt Lake on goals scored, with a victory Friday night over visiting Colorado (8pm PT, KDOC, Univision Deportes, AM 1150, 1220 AM, LIVECHAT). It's a crucial game for a team that has set its aim on back-to-back MLS Cup titles.
LA have six games to go – a home-and-home with the Rapids, a home game next weekend against Toronto and a season-ending sequence against RSL, at San Jose and against Seattle – and understand that how they fare could determine what path they take when postseason arrives.
View from the Booth: LA Galaxy vs Colorado Rapids
“We've got to keep this going,” said midfielder/forward Mike Magee. “You always know the team that ends up winning MLS Cup is the team that goes into the postseason hot, so it doesn't matter what we did in the middle of the season, doesn't matter what we did at the beginning of the season. All that matters is how we finish strong. Every game from here on out is massive, even if we don't get points. Let's just keep raising the bar and getting everybody fit and mentally ready for a playoff push.”
The top three teams in each conference avoid the wild-card round, and with home-and-home series slated for the conference semifinals and finals, captain Landon Donovan explained, where you finish doesn't matter a whole lot as long as you're in the top three. But the points – those matter.
“I think what becomes important is if a team does reach the MLS Cup final, it's who has the most points [will be home],” Donovan said. “We're not only watching West teams now. We want to keep climbing and see if we can get ahead of some East teams in the event that we can make it that far, we get a home game.”
The Galaxy would be within a point of second-place Seattle with a victory, but the Sounders will have two games in hand, one of them Saturday in Portland. (live nationally on NBC, 12:30pm PT) San Jose, which is 10 points ahead of LA, might be out of reach.
“We've done a lot of hard work to get back in the mix,” Donovan said. “All we can control is to keep winning our games. We're hopeful Portland and Dallas and Colorado and Chivas can steal points off some of these guys down the stretch, but if not, all we can concentrate on is trying to win games and keep putting points on the board and then see where we end up. From where we were, top three would be a fantastic result, but we're pretty greedy around here and we want to finish as high as we can. ...
“We're definitely not getting ahead of ourselves. The chance to be in the playoffs after 13 games [and a 3-7-2 start] was pretty slim at that point, so we're happy where we are, but we want to keep going and keep pushing.”