CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy head coach Bruce insisted there is no reason to worry as the five-time MLS Cup champions head into the final two weeks of the regular season. But looks can be deceiving.


They have won only two of their last 12 matches (2-3-7) and are guaranteed no better than a third-place finish in the Western Conference. If the MLS Cup playoffs began today, the Galaxy would take on Sporting Kansas City in a dreaded play-in game, with the winner facing Colorado in the conference semifinals.


“What am I concerned about? Who said I was concerned?” Arena said to reporters as his team prepared for Sunday’s game in Houston against the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium (2 p.m., Spectrum Sports Network, Spectrum Deportes). “I never said I was concerned.


“Where we are right now, we’re in position to win the MLS Cup. We’re in the playoffs.”


But these clearly are not the best of times for the franchise. Injuries continue to disrupt their chemistry – Gyasi Zardes remains out with a broken foot, Steven Gerrard is back in Liverpool, England rehabbing a hamstring injury and Robbie Keane’s status is unclear for this weekend – and they lost their last two games in an unsuccessful drive to improve their playoff seeding.


They have dropped only six matches all season, second only to FC Dallas’ five, and Giovani Dos Santos will be available after finishing his duties with Mexico’s national team, but various players have admitted all is not well in Galaxy land. But they also say individual meetings with Arena and two hard weeks of practice – the Galaxy last played Oct. 1 in Dallas – could prove beneficial.


“Maybe it was something we needed, just to all get back on track,” defender A.J. DeLaGarza said of the break in the schedule. “We’re all here for the same reason, and that’s to win an MLS Cup. We’re all engaged.


“For the LA Galaxy in the past this is kind of where we turn it up and we’ve got to start that this weekend.”


The Galaxy (11-6-15, 48 points) will be facing a Houston (7-13-12, 33 points) side that is last in the West and has lost three of its last four games at home. The Dynamo, under the direction of interim coach Wade Barrett, are led by forward Mauro Manotas’ six goals and midfielder Boniek Garcia’s nine assists.


The Galaxy, who will be without center back Jelle Van Damme (yellow-card accumulation), aren’t concerned as much about the upset-minded Dynamo as they are about themselves. In fact, they’re almost desperate for some positive news.


“We know we have a good team and guys that are capable,” DeLaGarza said. “We’ve been saying that for quite some time. We’ve got to get the results now.”


Landon Donovan, who could get his first start after recently coming out of retirement, said the two-week break between matches could be just what the Galaxy needed.


“A lot of times when you’re playing poorly you want to get back on the field, but we needed time to kind of re-assess things,” he said. “It gave us a chance to step back, be honest and understand that if we want to have any chance of winning there’s certain things we have to do right.


“We have as talented a team as any in the league. We know that.”


Added Mike Magee, who also could make his first start since Aug. 24 against Chicago, “It’s going to start with us fighting and battling for each other. That’s one thing that’s been lacking. We have the quality, we have the ability to get shutouts and play well.


“We just need to fight and I think the rest will come.”




HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. LA GALAXY
BBVA Compass Stadium | Houston, Texas
Sunday, Oct. 16 | Week #33 | MLS Game #328
5 pm ET (MLS LIVE, ROOT Sports SW, Spectrum SportsNet)

  • The Galaxy had their winless run stretched to three games, dropping a 1-0 decision to FC Dallas on Oct. 1 at Toyota Stadium. The shutout loss also snapped a string of five consecutive games having scored multiple goals.
  • The teams are meeting for a third time this season, and the Galaxy have won the first two. Giovani dos Santos scored a pair of goals and set up a third as the Galaxy claimed a 4-1 win April 15 at BBVA Compass Stadium; Steven Gerrard scored the game’s lone goal in LA’s win July 15 at StubHub Center.
  • The Galaxy win this year was their first ever at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Galaxy’s last win in Houston had come in 2010– at Robertson Stadium. The Dynamo had won four consecutive home games in the series.
  • The Galaxy have won the last two meetings at StubHub Center. Their win May 22, 2015 in Carson was LA’s first league victory against the Dynamo since May 25, 2011, ending a five-game league winless run in the series. The Dynamo had won four consecutive league meetings between the teams before a 1-1 draw March 21 in the first meeting last year.


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