A second half Dom Dwyer goal was enough for Sporting Kansas City as the LA Galaxy lost 2-1 Sunday night before an overflow crowd at Sporting Park.
With the loss, the Galaxy finish the season as the 5th seed, which means LA have to travel to Seattle in the knockout round of the 2015 Audi MLS Cup playoffs.
LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) October 25, 2015
AJ De La Garza returned to the lineup after missing the Portland match, however the big story was with Sporting KC as head coach Peter Vermes elected not to start mercurial playmaker Benny Feilhaber in a game Sporting needed all three points to guarantee a playoff spot.
The first chance occurred when Gyasi Zardes skied an errant clearance from SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia. Sporting responded when Dom Dwyer almost got behind the Galaxy defense but Ricketts just beat Dwyer to the loose ball before eventually gathering the rebound.
In the 19h minute, LA surged forward on the counter-attack but with Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane making hard runs into the box, the crpss from dos Santos was short and SKC cleared. On the following play, Gio attempted to find Keane before blasting the rebound just over the net.
Later in the half, Kristian Nemeth curved in a brilliant cross to Dom Dwyer from point-blank range, but Ricketts stood tall to rob SKC of a goal. The LA defense continued to hold firm as Omar Gonzalez cleared a dangerous ball before De La Garza expertly tackled the ball away from Dwyer inside the box.
Then the Galaxy, a team in desperate need of a break, suffered more hard luck. Off a trademark Matt Besler long throw-in, Sonny Mustivar's glancing header was cleared by Gonzalez before Chance Myers' shot deflected off defender Kevin Ellis, who was at least a yard offsides, towards Ricketts, who made the save but Ellis buried the rebound to give SKC an undeserved lead.
Steven Gerrard was the scapegoat before the break when dos Santos squared to Gerrard all alone on the counter-attack, but Gerrard quickly shot right at Melia and wasted the breakaway.
However, the Galaxy equalized with the last play of the half when a smart Gerrard run allowed dos Santos to find Keane racing to the left, and Keane dinked a one-time finish over Melia to tie things up.
LA started off brightly in the second half. A crisp passing sequence on another counter-attack almost unglued the Sporting defense, but AJ De La Garza's pass was behind Keane and the play failed to materialize.
In the 53rd minute, Gerrard did well to near a dangerous near post cross on a SKC corner kick, then Kevin Ellis skied an open header from inside the box as Sporting's attacking began to heat up.
And after both teams traded dangerous chances, it was Benny Feilhaber, subbed in at halftime following animated instructions from Peter Vermes, who gave Sporting the decisive lead. With just a bit of time and space in the midfield, Feilhaber surged past Juninho before slipping an inch-perfect pass to Dominic Dwyer, and Dwyer's shot deflected over Ricketts and into the net to give Sporting the edge they needed.
A few minutes later, Nemeth fired a rising rocket that Ricketts did well to tip over the bar as the Galaxy were on the ropes.
Sporting looked confident as the game wore on, while LA, despite showing effort, looked second-best at this point. Late in the match Leonardo had a ball drop kindly to the defender inside the Sporting box, but his shot was tame.
Gyasi Zardes had a golden opportunity in stoppage time when a dos Santos free kick skidded to Zardes, but Melia was perfectly placed at the near post to bat away the powerful attempt.