michael stephens vs. portland, 9/29/13
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Playoff Picture: LA Galaxy eager to solidify postseason position

As we head into the stretch run of the 2013 MLS regular season, each week, LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will break down the playoff chase from both conferences as we look ahead to the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s playoff hopes are sitting on a razor's edge, but closing the season with three of their last four games of the season at StubHub Center has LA confident of securing a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Galaxy’s 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers on Sunday afternoon may have ended their MLS Supporters’ Shield aspirations as the fourth place Galaxy sit on 45 points which is six points behind Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders FC, who are tied atop the Western Conference with 51 points. Currently, LA are tied with the Colorado Rapids—who were idle this week—on points, but hold the tiebreakers in goals scored and goal difference, the first two tiebreakers that decide seeding for the MLS Cup Playoffs.

While the Galaxy dropped a result at JELD-WEN Field, RSL continued their chase for the Supporters’ Shield by utilizing a reserve-laden roster to defeat Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1-0 at BC Place on a Devon Sandoval goal. Meanwhile, Seattle dropped two points at home, playing to a 1-1 draw with the Eastern Conference leading New York Red Bulls, a result that cost them sole possesion of first place heading into October. Although both teams are just six points ahead of LA, time is running out on the Galaxy’s ability to catch them as they have just four games remaining compared to RSL’s three and Seattle’s five.

The fastest climbing team in the West is the San Jose Earthquakes, who defeated Chivas USA 1-0 on an 87th goal by Chris Wondolowski. San Jose sits just a point behind the Rapids and LA with three games left to play including matches against Colorado on Sunday, Oct. 6 and the Galaxy on Sunday, Oct. 20. While the Earthquakes raised their stock, FC Dallas may have fallen off the pace for good as they fell 4-2 at home to the Columbus Crew. The Whitecaps and FCD sit four and five points back respectively of the West’s final playoff berth with each still having four games to play.

In the Eastern Conference, the Red Bulls sit four points ahead of Sporting Kansas City for the top spot, but after those top two clubs, the playoff picture becomes far more muddled. Montreal remain in third after their 2-2 draw with the eighth place Chicago Fire, but the biggest result in the conference came on Friday at Sporting Park. The Philadelphia Union strengthened their playoff hopes with a 1-0 victory over Sporting that allowed them to leapfrog the New England Revolution into fifth place in the East. New England conceded a second half goal in a 1-1 home draw with the fourth place Houston Dynamo, a result that moved them into a sixth place tie with the suddenly-hot Columbus Crew, who have won three of their last four.

If the season ended today:

Western Conference Knockout round: LA Galaxy (Fourth seed) vs. Colorado Rapids (Fifth seed).

Western Conference Semifinals:

Semifinal No. 1: Seattle Sounders FC (First Seed) vs. Knockout Round winner (Lower seed hosts first leg)

Semifinal No. 2: Real Salt Lake (Second Seed) vs. 3. Portland Timbers (Third Seed)

Eastern Conference Knockout round: Houston Dynamo (Fourth seed) vs. Philadelphia Union (Fifth seed).

Eastern Conference Semifinals:

Semifinal No. 1: New York Red Bulls (First Seed) vs. Knockout Round winner (Lower seed host first leg)

Semifinal No. 2: Sporting Kansas City (Second Seed) vs. 3. Montreal Impact (Third Seed)

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com