(Editorial) – With an effective (but slightly uninspiring) win over the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, the LA Galaxy have clinched home field advantage in the knock out round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. What’s the current state of the team after the win? What does this mean for Decision Day next weekend? What does it mean for their seeding and potential playoff opponent(s)? Let’s break it all down.
LA Galaxy Secure Home Field In Wildcard Round: What It Means
The LA Galaxy won their road match on Sunday thanks to a fortuitous goal from striker Alan Gordon (on his birthday, no less). Combined with the other results from the crazy Sunday in MLS, the Galaxy have secured third place in the Western Conference. They had already been eliminated from the top two seeds last weekend. The only thing for them to do was secure home field for the wild card round.
Sunday’s Match Against Dallas Means Nothing:
Fourth place Real Salt Lake can no longer surpass the Galaxy no matter what happens next weekend. The Galaxy are locked into third place. They will play the sixth seed in the wild card round, on either October 26 or 27. That’s a Wednesday or a Thursday.
There are still four possible opponents for them in that match: RSL, Seattle Sounders, Sporting KC, or the Portland Timbers. As the Galaxy play FC Dallas, they have no control over who that opponent is. It will depend on other results.
In that, their final regular season match means nothing competitively. Dallas however will be trying to secure the Supporter’s Shield.
Preparing For The Playoffs:
This is an excellent opportunity for head coach Bruce Arena to rest his veterans and players recovering from injury. He can give some of the younger players a run out. We might also see him experiment a bit tactically to get some ideas for what could work in a potential playoff match against Dallas.
In any case, it’s a chance for Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard to get healthy without any pressure to play them. Maybe it’s a good thing Gerrard won’t have to play on Sunday however. Veterans like Ashley Cole, Alan Gordon, and Jelle Van Damme could also get a game off. This rest will be much needed.
Potential Wild Card Opponents:
Here are the match ups for potential Galaxy wild card opponents: Seattle Sounders host Real Salt Lake. Sporting KC host the San Jose Earthquakes. Portland Timbers are away to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Portland, Sporting, and Dallas all have CONCACAF Champions League midweek matches to deal with. Sporting are already eliminated, but Dallas and Portland both need results to advance.
My gut says the Galaxy will play the loser of Seattle vs. RSL (Seattle if the game ends up being a draw). Sporting won’t take their CCL match seriously and the Quakes have nothing to play for. Portland will be without Liam Ridgewell and Diego Chara on Sunday. Plus, Vancouver will be looking to play spoiler and knock out their Cascadia rival. Never mind that the Timbers are winless on the road all year.
Sporting should beat San Jose. Portland probably loses. That means the loser of the match in Seattle will drop below Sporting in the standings.
In terms of who the Galaxy would want to play, it would probably be Sporting or Portland. Both will be exhausted from the push to the playoffs and CCL.
Who do you think the Galaxy should play in the final game of the season? Who will they play in the wild card? Hit me up on twitter or in the comments below.