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Does a strike help the LA Galaxy's chances of winning MLS Cup?

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Recent reports suggest that MLS is edging perilously close to a work stoppage, but could a strike end up helping the LA Galaxy?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

According to recent reports, an MLS work stoppage may be imminent as both sides seem unwilling to budge when it comes to free agency. Bummer, right? Not so fast. Sure we all want to see as many soccer games as possible, but, as LA Galaxy fans, we also want six stars above that crest come next season. So how in the world are the two related? Because a strike would help the Galaxy hoist the cup.

Hear me out. The Galaxy are notorious slow starters. Come summer time, though,  they are usually firing on all cylinders. Isn't better we start the season as close to that magical time of year as possible?

Still not convinced? Consider the matter of one Steven Gerrard. Gerrard will not suit up for the Galaxy until mid July. If there is no strike, that means he isn't coming until the Galaxy are already 22 games into the season. That means the Galaxy are spending a tremendous amount of money on a player that can only have an impact on 38% of the season. Wouldn't you like that percentage to be a little higher? A strike would almost certainly increase it.

Let's run through a couple of strike scenarios and see how they affect the Galaxy in regard to the schedule.

One month strike

In a one month strike, the Galaxy would lose the following games from their schedule, although it's possible they will be rescheduled at a later date. This is a very important caveat, but one I will discuss later.

March 2015

Date

Home

Away

3/6

LA

Chicago

3/15

Portland

LA

3/21

LA

Houston

3/28

DC

LA

As you can see, the Galaxy would lose two home games against two very soft opponents. This isn't great because maximizing points against the Houston's and Chicago's of the world is key to success in the table. This is balanced, however, by the loss of two difficult road games. Portland is always a nightmare to play away, and the Galaxy have shown they are often vulnerable on east coast trips, so the loss of a road game against one of the east's top teams is welcomed.

The math

The schedule drops from 34 games to 30 games. The Galaxy lose 2 home games and 2 away games, keeping the 50%-50% balance of home and road games in tact. The percentage of games that Gerrard would play jumps from 38% to 43.3%

All and all. Losing March would be a net gain for the Galaxy.

Two month strike

But free-agency is a big issue and both sides are heavily entrenched in their positions. A strike may last longer than a month. So how would a two month strike affect the Galaxy schedule? Take a look.

April 2015

Date

Home

Away

4/4

Vancouver

LA

4/12

LA

Seattle

4/18

LA

SKC

4/26

NYRB

LA

Vancouver is a much improved side this year, so I'll gladly take it's loss from the schedule. The following two home games are against two extremely tough opponents: The Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City. These are huge losses from the schedule as we may very well be locked in a Supporters Shield race with them, however, if these games are rescheduled post Gerrard's arrival, then this is another huge gain for the Galaxy. The game against New York is one that the Galaxy would expect points from, however, it's not one where a win is expected either, so it's not really much of a gain or loss in the end.

The math

The season drops from 34 games to 26 games, increasing the percentage of Gerrard games to 50%. Once again, an equal number of home and road games are lost, so the schedule remains balanced.

While losing two home games to key conference rivals isn't ideal, a two month strike pushes Gerrard's availability to 50% of the season, and his impact could be even greater if these key games are scheduled to be made up after he arrives. Once again, I think a two month strike would also benefit the Galaxy.

Strike continuing into May

Strikes are hard to predict. While it is unlikely that this thing drags out 3 entire months, it could very well carry on into May. In the month of May, the Galaxy play 7 games. That's a brutal stretch and tired legs will probably have the Galaxy dropping points against teams they really should beat. Any reduction of this would be extremely helpful. There is also a series of road games that the Galaxy will very much be glad to be rid of, or, at the very least, have split up-- Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, and Orlando in a matter of 11 days. RSL and Dallas are traditionally very tough road games, so splitting them up would help tremendously.

The math

Losing 3 months of the season drops the schedule down to 19 games (although I doubt the league would allow a season so short so expect rescheduling at this point). If they were to, however, Gerrard's impact would span 68% of the season. Even if games are rescheduled, Gerrard will be able to play in games that were previously scheduled to be played prior to his arrival, so that percentage would still rise, although not quite as high. The Galaxy schedule would also tip to 52% home games, however, I doubt the league will allow this either.  Again, the math is all rather dubious at this point, so take the 3 month figures with a grain of salt.

Conclusions

I want the season to start as much as the next guy, however, I honestly believe that a strike would boost the Galaxy's chances of winning MLS Cup. Gerrard is a world class player and it can't be stressed enough just how helpful his increased impact on the schedule would be under some form of strike schedule. If you lop off games, that helps. If you reschedule games any time after his projected first game on July 17th, that helps.

Sure we don't know exactly what a post strike schedule would look like, however, in the case of the Galaxy, there is reason to believe that those replay games would take place after Gerrard's arrival.  Why? Because there is simply no room to cram them into May, when the Galaxy play 7 games, nor is there room to cram them into June, when the Galaxy play 5 games.

So the next time a player comes out and states that a strike is imminent, chin up and whistle this tune because more trophies may be imminent as well.