LA Galaxy playoff hopes on the line in final two match days

LA Galaxy Playoff Push
CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Zlatan Ibrahimovic #9 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates his 2nd goal during the Los Angeles Galaxy's MLS match against Vancouver Whitecaps at the StubHub Center on September 29, 2018 in Carson, California. The Los Angeles Galaxy won the match 3-0 (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)

Editorial (October 19, 2018) – The LA Galaxy playoff hopes are on the line. With sixth place Real Salt Lake winning last night, the Galaxy are now four points below the red line with two games left to play.

LA Galaxy playoff hopes on the line in final two games

The rest of the season is simple. The Galaxy need to win out their final two games, at Minnesota this Sunday and hosting Houston Dynamo on Decision Day. They also need RSL to not win their final game of the season, at Portland Timbers this Sunday.

Los Angeles cannot win the first tiebreaker against RSL (wins), which is why they need to finish with more points in order to finish above them in the standings, and thus make the playoffs.

This is absolutely doable. Both teams they’re playing have already been eliminated from the playoffs and could be rotating the squad in what will be meaningless games. The biggest hurdle will be surviving this Sunday. The Loons have lost just two games at home all season, but have dropped their last two in spectacular fashion. Two weeks ago, the lost 5-1 at Philadelphia then lost 2-0 at home to Colorado in a game that features a stoppage-time bench brawl.

Manager Adrian Heath was critical of his team after both games, questioning effort and implying that a number of players have their jobs on the line. TFC Bank Stadium will have nearly 50,000 fans on hand for Sunday. United is a weak and wounded animal right now, but they’re going to give the Galaxy a run for their money.

They boast a potent offense with Darwin Quintero and Miguel Ibarra leading the way. The Galaxy defense has improved under Dominic Kinnear but will be playing on turf. On the other side, Minnesota has a poor and error-prone defense. The Galaxy offense will get their chances. If they can dictate the pace in midfield with and without the ball, they have a good chance to win. Ultimately, I think it will come down to whether Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be able to start and play well for at least an hour.

While RSL got a result last night, Sunday they’ll be heading into Portland to take on the Timbers who beat them 4-1 in Utah recently. They also have yet to clinch a playoff spot yet. Expect Diego Valeri and company to show up motivated and organized. Given that RSL had to play midweek and a number of their players were away on international duty, they’ll have heavy legs late in the game. I like Portland’s chances to get a win. An RSL win (which would eliminate the Galaxy no matter what else happens) is the least likely outcome.

If both these games fall the Galaxy’s way, then all eyes turn to a must-win match at home against Houston. Like the Galaxy, Last Word on Soccer will cross that bridge when we get there.

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