CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are through to the postseason for the fifth time in a row and a record 15th time in club history, but the accomplishment has a bittersweet taste after LA was unable to get three points in a scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes.
A victory would have placed LA in first place in the Western Conference heading into the final game of the season, but with a draw against San Jose, their playoff seeding remains very much a question.
Sunday’s draw began as a track meet with both teams trading chances early, the Galaxy eventually began to control the issue in the game’s closing minutes, but despite repeatedly threatening San Jose’s goal, they found themselves unable to find the back of the net. With several chances to earn a the victory squandered, the Galaxy were noticeably melancholy after the draw.
“That’s our main aim, to get to the playoffs, but obviously disappointed not to get the three points. [It] could have gone either way,” said Galaxy captain Robbie Keane, who forced a pair of saves from San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch. “ I think we were a bit more clever in the last 15 minutes in the counterattack, I think we could have scored a couple of goals because they were gung-ho and threw everybody on and they were getting balls in the box.”
Keane’s comments were echoed by Landon Donovan, who battled through an inflamed left ankle during the draw.
“Well, we clinched a spot [in the playoffs] but we wanted more and I think we feel like we let an opportunity slip through our hands,” said Donovan. “I think the expectation is to make the playoffs and we had the chance to do something more, so we are disappointed by we have to move on and we have to big games this week so we have to move on.”
With the Galaxy attack misfiring, LA relied on their defense to keep to shutout and no one was more influential than goalkeeper Jaime Penedo who tallied four saves to earn his fourth regular season shutout of his brief Galaxy career.
“It was important for us to get a point to stay alive in the playoff race. It is just about keeping going, right now,” said Penedo. “We knew what was at stake, but the game took another turn. It was important to protect the tie because there is a bigger goal at play here. This is a team that wins a lot and we just need to carry that into the playoffs.”
Just where LA are seeded will depend on the season finale against Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. With a victory, LA can assure a top three spot, but anything less and LA will likely be playing in the Knockout Round for the second consecutive year.
Even with the qualification assured, LA insist that they’ll need to close out the season strong in order to avoid the Knockout Round.
“We don’t have time to rest. We can’t think about the playoffs yet because there’s a lot to work to do,” said midfielder Marcelo Sarvas. “There are points to be had that can put us in first, second, third, fourth or, maybe, fifth place. We have a lot of work to do.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com