After the LA Galaxy dropped their first home game since the start of last season, continuing a string of disappointing results, Robbie Keane was unconcerned about the direction of the season. "Better to get [the streak ending home loss] out of the way now rather than it coming in the playoffs" he explained, as if the playoffs are foregone conclusion for the struggling Galaxy squad. "We're still in there," he went on to say, "so it's no crisis. We're inconsistent, but we're still there in the pack which is most important."
Currently straddling the final playoff spot position, the Galaxy do indeed find themselves in the middle of the pack as Keane suggested, however there is a fundamental fallacy in reading the table in such a simplistic way.
Having played 16 games, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps have played the most games in the conference. The rest of the teams in the conference have played anywhere between 1-3 games fewer, so while it's technically correct to say that the Galaxy are in the middle of the pack, it's also extremely deceptive in terms of where the Galaxy are in terms of the still early race for the playoffs.
If you break it down by points per game, the Galaxy fall two places in the standings.
This does not mean that Robbie Keane shouldn't be confident the team is going to make the playoffs, and he's certainly wise to expect this team's form to improve as players return to health and a certain Englishman arrives in July, however, it does raise questions about the players' current reading of where the team stands in the conference and the lack of urgency in said quotes should serve to raise a few eyebrows.
On the one hand, I like the swagger. This is LA. The playoffs should be a foregone conclusion and I sort of like notion that the players fully expect to be there in the playoffs. On the other hand, there is a fine line between swagger and hubris, and there is a very real danger of complacency. In this regard, the lack of urgency displayed by Robbie Keane in his statements scares me a little.
Sure the Galaxy are known for summer runs, but there is no universal law that says Galaxy teams must hit stride in July. It just so happens that past Galaxy teams have dug deep and found it in themselves to do it. They didn't expect it, they willed it and the driving force was always a sense of urgency.
In terms of games played, this coming weekend's game against the Crew will mark the halfway point in the Galaxy's season. Given the injuries, it's quite easy to explain and excuse the Galaxy's results thus far. What cannot be excused however is a lack of urgency and lack of alarm. Only two teams in the conference have a lower points per game total, and with 6 playoff spots available, the Galaxy will find themselves battling to simply attain one of the lower seeded positions if things don't turn around fast.
So while Keane is correct that it's not a crisis, there is certainly more cause for concern than he seems to suggest.