Following Wednesday’s scoreless draw between Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, here is a look at the LA Galaxy playoff picture…
Where the Galaxy stand…
With the scoreless draw between Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake, the Galaxy remain in contention for second and third seeds in the Western Conference.
LA still stand in fourth place in the Western Conference with 50 points, six points behind RSL, who have 56 and three behind Seattle, who has 53. If the season ended today, the Galaxy would play in the MLS First Round Knockout against fifth place Vancouver Whitecaps FC on either October 31 or November 1. The Whitecaps can clinch the final playoff berth in the West with a victory over the Portland Timbers on Saturday or an FC Dallas loss at Seattle on Sunday.
With two games left on the MLS regular season docket, the Galaxy’s playoff picture remains clouded with a number of possibilities still out there.
The simple answer is that with two wins in their final two games – at San Jose on Sunday and then at home against Seattle in the regular season finale a week later – the Galaxy can finish no lower than third in the West, allowing them to avoid the First Round Knockout. LA could even finish second with wins in those two games combined with a Salt Lake loss to Vancouver in their final game of the year, at home on Sat., Oct. 27.
However, the Galaxy could also soon find themselves booked firmly into the fourth spot, setting up a First Round Knockout match with the Whitecaps or FC Dallas (who trail Vancouver by four points with two games remaining). If the Sounders get more points from their game against Dallas on Sunday than the Galaxy get from their game against San Jose that same day, LA will be locked into fourth place, leaving RSL and the Sounders to battle for the second spot.
What it means…
The scoreless tie in Seattle was massive for the Galaxy’s hopes to qualify for a top three seed.
Although just a single point for Real Salt Lake in their final match of the season will eliminate LA from earning the second seed, the road is far clearer for the third seed, making Sunday’s game perhaps the most important of the season for Bruce Arena’s squad.
The Earthquakes have not lost at Buck Shaw Stadium all season, going 9-0-5 at the intimate venue in 2012, stretching their unbeaten streak there to 17 games dating back to last season. But if the Galaxy can snap that streak, they would need to just take care of the Sounders at home a week later in order to avoid the Knockout.
Seattle host Dallas on Sunday night (live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes) with kickoff for that game scheduled for 6 p.m., right around the time the Galaxy will be wrapping up against the Earthquakes. That means that by the time the sun rises on Monday, the Galaxy could have everything to play for against the Sounders on the 28th in the season finale or they can already begin their preparations for the First Round Knockout, which they would host a few days later.
If the playoffs ended today…
Western Conference Knockout round: LA Galaxy (Fourth seed) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Fifth seed) on either Oct. 31 or Nov. 1.
Western Conference Semifinals: There are two semifinals…
Semifinal No. 1: San Jose Earthquakes (First Seed) vs. First Round Knockout winner (Lower seed host first leg on either Nov. 3 or Nov. 4; Higher seed host second leg on either Nov. 7 or Nov. 8)
Semifinal No. 2: Real Salt Lake (Second Seed) vs. 3. Seattle Sounders (Third Seed) (Lower seed host first leg on either Nov. 3 or Nov. 4; Higher seed host second leg on either Nov. 7 or Nov. 8)
Western Conference Championship: dates are Nov. 10 or 11 (first leg) and Nov. 17-18 (second leg).
MLS Cup: Dec. 1
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com