Tom Bogert recently put out a piece ranking the Audi 2019 MLS Cup playoff teams by which clubs are under the most pressure to succeed during the postseason.
As you might expect, Los Angeles Football Club were ranked first. Despite breaking league records, the Black and Gold have failed to show up in big games and most pundits believe they need to win it all or risk becoming a footnote in league history as just another “really good” team.
And for the LA Galaxy?
Last season, the Galaxy had Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a TAM contract. They didn’t make the playoffs. This season, they have Cristian Pavon on a TAM contract. They finished as the fifth seed, and will hit the road in Round One. With their history, plus immaculate star power, Los Angeles will be desperate for something much more than a one-and-done playoff experience.
Sure, DP Romain Alessandrini played just 281 minutes in the regular season, lessening the competitive benefit of having Pavon on a TAM deal for this season a bit, but still. A team with Pavon, Zlatan, Jonathan dos Santos and the weight of expectation that comes with five MLS Cups, it’s a pressure-filled postseason for the Galaxy. As per usual.
Sure there is expectation, but pressure?
If the regular season has taught us anything this Galaxy team feeds on pressure. LA walked into Banc of California Stadium and within 15 minutes Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristian Pavon put three past Tyler Miller, shattering the inevitability myth surrounding LAFC at home. They haven’t been the same since.
Which they fail to do time and time again is execute. Schelotto rightly noted the team relaxed after securing a playoff berth and losses to the Whitecaps and Dynamo cost LA a home playoff game.
But this team can handle the pressure. Zlatan’s won in the biggest environments his entire career. Pavon played regularly inside the Bombonera for years. Uriel Antuna just won a Gold Cup. Joe Corona is a Liga MX Apertuna winner. Even the pressure to win is a bit overstated. The Galaxy may always be competing for trophies but this is the first year of the Dennis te Kloese project. Expectations are reasonable.
LA’s inconsistent form leaves the Galaxy vulnerable in the playoffs, but they don’t have to worry so much about pressure.