‘It’s in our hands:’ LA Galaxy playoff push meets must win game against Houston Dynamo

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)

PREVIEW (October 28, 2018) – Their twitter account said it best. The LA Galaxy playoff hopes come down to today, MLS Decision Day 2018. It’s simple. They play the Houston Dynamo. A win and they’re in. Any other result and rival Real Salt Lake get the sixth spot in the crammed Western Conference. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and company have one final regular season mission.

LA Galaxy playoff push meets must-win game against Houston Dynamo

The Dynamo have already been eliminated from MLS Cup Playoff contention. They have lost three games in a row and lost 10 of 14. They haven’t looked the same since their win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. Wilmer Cabrera’s done an admirable job with some Central American talent and the smallest budget in the league. The defense regressed this year and their attacking stars are too inconsistent.

On their best day, they can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. When they struggle, they’re not competitive. With the goal production down this year across the board (outside of Mario Manotas), they’re out of the playoff race.

The Dynamo will be looking to play spoiler but with just one game remaining in their season, Cabrera could experiment with the roster. Several reserve and homegrown players could get opportunities. It’s likely some combination of Alberth Elis, Manotas, Romell Quioto, and Tomas Martinez will feature in this game even if the whole group doesn’t start.

Controlling the midfield will be key. Houston will likely sit deep and counter attack. With Juan David Cabezas unlikely to start, Houston will be weak in the middle. Jonathan dos Santos will have to continue his form as the lone No. 6 to prevent counter attacks and the wide players cannot get beat easily. Sebastian Lletget has grown into his new central attacking role under Dominic Kinnear. He will have to continue to excel.

Success for the Galaxy will however come from up top. No matter the combination at center back, the Dynamo are weak defensively. They aren’t very fast or great in the air. Today should be a feeding frenzy for Ibrahimovic and Ola Kamara on the ground and in the air. Expect Ibrahimovic to dunk on a Houston player at least once and Kamara will try to shoot the gaps in the defense (preferably not on the DaMarcus Beasley side of the field).

This game should be an easy win for the Galaxy. They’re trending up while Houston is trending down. The offense should be able to get at least two goals. If the defense can play it safe and not gift Houston chances, they will win this game. It comes down to execution in a must win game.

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