After a helter-skelter weekend of Major League Soccer action in which seemingly every result went against the LA Galaxy, the newly minted Western Conference standings show the full scope of the challenge Sigi Schmid’s side are facing.
Above the red line by the slimmest of margins, the Galaxy have seven games to pick up as many points as possible. Several of LA’s rivals have games in hand and are peaking in form. Real Salt Lake obliterated Colorado 6-0 in the Rocky Mountain Cup while the Seattle Sounders squeaked by the Timbers to win a franchise-record seventh consecutive match.
Further complicating matters is the ongoing injury crisis. Jonathan dos Santos will likely return this weekend while Romain Alessandrini and Giovani dos Santos are still nursing injuries.
LA are up against it. FiveThirtyEight is giving the Galaxy a 31% chance of making the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, though that can quickly change. (RSL has three more points and 77% odds) To realistically compete for a playoff spot, LA must win two of their next three games, starting this Saturday on the road in Utah vs. a RSL team who have just lost once at home all year.
It’s a tough proposition, but a doable one. No one has been able to stifle the Galaxy’s direct play, and with the return of a natural right back in Rolf Feltscher the much-maligned defense sprang to life during El Trafico. Real Salt Lake are a tough nut to crack at home, but their relatively inexperienced back line can be exposed, and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the attack anything can happen.