The LA Galaxy got everything they needed over the weekend to optimize their chances of making the playoffs, now they need to finish the job on Decision Day.
The Galaxy entered Sunday’s action four points back of sixth place Real Salt Lake. A win against Minnesota United was absolutely essential, but RSL dropping points was almost as important in their chace for a postseason berth.
Well, the Galaxy took down Minnesota by a 3-2 score and the Portland Timbers did them a solid by stomping RSL in the latter’s season finale to give LA plenty of hope that they can squeak into the postseason next weekend.
All that’s left for to do for the Galaxy to get into the playoffs is go home to StubHub Center and beat the Houston Dynamo next Sunday. This weekend’s result was only the latest step in that process, but the team is in high spirits heading into the last week of the regular season.
“The mood’s good, they’re happy,” Galaxy head coach Dominic Kinnear said after Sunday’s win. “They know it’s still not over. We accomplished a win on the road which puts us in a spot next week where we can maybe get into the playoffs. I think deep down inside that they’re happy, it’s been a good little run we’ve been on. I do think they do have an eye on the following week, but we’re getting carried away that’s for sure.”
Needless to say, the Galaxy had zeo control over what was happening in Portland. Real Salt Lake didn’t exactly play its best game of the year and the Galaxy are quite happy about that, but it was never something they were worrying about. Kinnear and his troops had to remain focussed on what they could control, which helped them get a win against the Loons and provide hope for next week.
“The focus was let’s not worry about them too much and let’s rely on ourselves,” Kinnear continued. “The win is huge and I think the guys understand that and it gives us great motivation heading into next week.”
The Galaxy’s season has basically been on the brink for the past several weeks. They went seven games without a win throughout the month of August and into September. Every game became a must-win, or at least must-not-lose, from that point forward and the team has responded well. They haven’t lost a game since September 15 and now only need one more win to finish the job.
“I think our playoffs started five games ago,” Zlatan Ibrahimovic said on Sunday, “because we needed to win to make it still possible to make the playoffs. If we lost any of them we were out. To play under pressure like that is not easy.”
Ibrahimovic lays a lot of credit on both his coach and teammates for remaining grounded and maintaining a one game at a time mentality throughout this run of important games. Without that attitude, he probably thinks the season would be over already and the Galaxy would simply close up shop and enter the offseason after a meaningless match against the already eliminated Dynamo.
“The guys are handling it very well, we are controlling it very well and we play with confidence,’ he said. “Dom [Kinnear] he gives us a lot of confidence. He keeps the basics simple and we just go out and try to do what we are able to do and we are doing it well at the moment.”
There is only one game left in the regular season for LA and it really is do or die. Any dropped points end their season and send Real Salt Lake to the postseason party. Nothing less than a win will do for a Galaxy team that has kept itself alive with big results over the final month of the season.