CARSON, Calif. – In May, the MLS Cup Playoffs seemed like a pipedream to an LA Galaxy side that was mired in last place in the Western Conference. However, nearly five months after the club hit its lowest point, the LA Galaxy clinched a spot in the Western Conference playoffs with a month remaining in the season.
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On Saturday, the Galaxy defeated Toronto FC 4-2 clinching a berth in the West while also moving into a tie with Real Salt Lake for the second spot in the conference behind first place San Jose. If the season ended today, not only would LA be in the playoffs, but the Galaxy would finish in second by virtue of holding the total goals scored tiebreaker on RSL.
With their ascension from worst team in the West to among the Conference’s elite complete, the Galaxy are overjoyed with their recent run of form.
“In May, this would have been an unlikely scenario so it’s been a terrific run of probably close to 20 games for our team,” said Arena. “We’re happy where we stand right now; there are a lot of games left. Obviously the next four games are going to say a lot in the West, and we’ve got three teams that are really close to each other.”
There are a host of reasons for LA’s rise including the steady play of the “Championship back four” of Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant over the past month. But on the offensive side of the ball, the Galaxy have been led by the rampant goal scoring of Juninho and forward Robbie Keane.
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Since June 23rd, Keane and Juninho have combined for an astounding 17 goals and nine assists. In that span, the Brazilian has notched six goals and three assists while Keane has tallied 11 goals and six assists. But even though the pair have been instrumental to LA’s revival, Keane is not interested in individual praise.
“I think that the whole team has been doing well. It’s not just down to individuals. Myself and Juni have been scoring goals lately, which is always nice for the team, but I think as a team, we’ve been quite solid,” said Keane. “We look like a proper team, we’re doing things together, we’re attacking together, which is very, very important so we need to keep that going.”
Although the Galaxy clinched a playoff berth, the Galaxy admitted the hardest work is yet to come. Starting with next Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado.
“To be honest, I think the most important game is going to be the Colorado game because I don’t doubt that we’ll be ready for Salt Lake and Seattle and San Jose,” said Donovan. “Those are big games and teams we can likely play in the playoffs. But the Colorado game is a game where we’re playing a team at their home field with nothing to lose, so we’ve got to make sure that we’re ready next week to play and try to get three points there.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@gmail.com