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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for LA heading into the playoffs

Despite losing the Supporters' Shield, LA is confident going into the MLS Cup playoffs. Why Galaxy fans should be too.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The good: Robbie Keane is back

The 2014 MVP candidate has missed two of the last three games, and if the reports are accurate, Keane wasn't 100% at home against the Sounders as well.

Obviously the Galaxy attack hasn't been the same, but with a fit and motivated Robbie back in the lineup, expect that to change.

The bad: Defensive lapses

Lately Dan Gargan and Robbie Rogers have been exposed for poor positioning. Out of the four goals the Galaxy surrendered during the home and away series vs. Seattle, three were directly caused by the outside backs tucking in. It's a trend that needs to be reversed.

As you can see on the first goal, Gargan is horribly out of position, allowing Obafemi Martins to split the ball between the defenders to a wide-open Marco Pappa, who doesn't waste the opportunity.

Oba Dan gif

It's not a terrible play. Realizing Marcelo Sarvas has turned the ball over in a bad spot, you can see Gargan frantically trying to snuff out the danger, but Martins is just a little better during the sequence.

The solution? The Galaxy just need to work on keeping their defensive shape, an issue they should be able to fix in training. If Gargan and Rogers can stay disciplined and prevent the Sounders wide players from receiving service in dangerous areas, they can isolate Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, forcing them to beat AJ DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez down the middle of the field.

As scary as Dempsey and Martins can be with their quick, skillful combination play, A.J. and Omar have proven they are capable of containing the two, limiting the duo to half-chances and low percentage shots, with Jaime Penedo also making crucial stops when called upon.

The key is to stop Marco Pappa and Lamar Neagle from getting easy looks at goal.

The ugly: Seattle going full-blown Kobra Kai

Oba shoulder gif


(This is the second straight game Martins is guilty of violent conduct off-the-ball, by the way)

There's just something about Sounder after Sounder taking cheap shots at AJ that's got to have the Galaxy locker room fired up. If Landon's retirement had become a distraction, this game is exactly what the players needed to get back on track.

The Galaxy were bullish about their play on Sunday in spite of losing, and had good reason to be.

"Did Seattle even get a chance in the game besides the mess at the end? We played pretty well."- Bruce Arena

Starting a full strength lineup in front of a massive crowd at CenturyLink Field, Seattle only managed 41% possession and two shots during the run of play versus a LA team missing two of its Designated Players. The Sounders may have gotten the result, but they were uninspiring to say the least.

Looking forward, a healthy Galaxy have every reason to believe they can take Seattle should they meet again in the playoffs.

"We're ready for the playoffs. We gave our all [against] Seattle if you watch the first 85 minutes of the game, you can see how we ran that field"- Gyasi Zardes

It also doesn't hurt the Sounders have already exposed their hand. The odds are good LA won't let Seattle get away with the "Sub Pappa in late" trick for a 3rd time.

The only real question mark for the Galaxy? How to unlock the formidable Yedlin/Evans combo. 

Yedlin Evans distribution chart


It will be interesting to see what kind of game plan Bruce comes up with to get around this figurative logjam.