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LA Galaxy miss playoffs in final minutes of 2021 season

No consolation, but the margins could not have been smaller.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at LA Galaxy Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Decision Day has not been kind to the LA Galaxy.

An infamous collapse at home to the Houston Dynamo in 2018 sunk their postseason hopes that year, the sight of Zlatan Ibrahimovic sulking on the bench after his team’s capitulation the lingering memory of the downside of “Decision Day” as a concept.

Although LA made the playoffs the following season, they faltered in an abbreviated 2020 campaign, and with a new coach, a remade roster and a full season this year, things were supposed to be different.

Despite being in a playoff spot all season, the same sinking feeling came to dunk on the Galaxy’s season this year, as what looked like a good enough 3-3 draw between LA and Minnesota United at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday ended up being just short of what the home side needed.

The Galaxy could have booked a ticket all by themselves with a win, but repeated defensive errors meant they were not going to get a victory easily against a Loons team that also needed a win to clinch their playoff place. Still, a draw or even a loss would have been fine for LA had other results gone their way.

One of those results did go their way, big-time, as the Colorado Rapids crushed LAFC 5-2, knocking LAFC out of playoff contention once and for all. That meant the Galaxy needed Real Salt Lake to not win, and the draw against the Loons would have gotten them over the line and into the playoffs.

But a stoppage-time winner for RSL gave them a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City, and Greg Vanney was on the sidelines frantically telling his team they needed another goal to win. It never came.

The reviews of LA’s season will thus be much more mixed than they were shaping up to be. I don’t think anyone would have considered the Galaxy to be legit MLS Cup contenders this season, but a playoff berth seemed like an eminently reasonable goal. Now that they’ve fallen short, a harsher tone will be taken. I think Vanney will get more time, but the margin for error will be much smaller now.

So, the Galaxy have officially missed the playoffs in four of the last five seasons. For a club that has set standards in the league in the past, this really isn’t good enough, and it’s back to the drawing board as LA face another long offseason. We’ll have plenty of coverage looking back at this season and sharing news that drops over the coming days, weeks and months.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.