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LA Galaxy back in championship contention, but are they lucky to be here?

The Galaxy are back, but the stats say it may be a mirage.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at LA Galaxy Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

After missing out on the playoffs last year, the LA Galaxy have bounced back in a big way. They currently sit in third in the Western Conference, and are only two points off Sporting KC for the top spot.

A big part of that has been the improved play, before his recent injury, from Chicharito. The team has also seen the rise of the young Efrain Alvarez, who has really settled into form lately. The team as a whole has played with more consistency and confidence when compared to the disaster of last season (and several seasons before that).

However, a recent graphic posted by Eliot McKinley, showing how good/unlucky, bad/lucky, any given team in the MLS is, has the Galaxy firmly in lucky territory and one of the luckiest teams overall.

This chart isn't just his opinion either. It is based on expected points for teams going against the ratio of points to expected points. The source information can be found from American Soccer Analysis here.

According to ASA, the Galaxy are performing a whole nine points better than expected. ASA has the xP at 22.9, as opposed to their actual 32 points. What’s even more astonishing is that the other statistics don't necessarily back this up like it does on the other end of the spectrum. That is, the Galaxy aren't performing particularly better than expected.

Full disclosure, I'm not an xGenius, but with stats, I always like to look at the other end of the spectrum to try and make it all make sense. Which team is performing far below expectation? In this case, LAFC have just as big a gap between expectations and reality. With an xP of 32.3, while they currently have just 23 points.

Now, their xGF is 29, when they've actually only scored 23, and with an xGA of 16, which is far below the 25 goals they’ve conceded in real life. Obviously, playing worse than expected. Compare that with the LA Galaxy who are again, nine whole points better than expected.

ASA has the Galaxy xGF at 25, and they've netted 27, and an xGA of 27 with them actually allowing more than expected, at 28 goals conceded. Some improvement sure, but is it nine points and five positions in the standings, better?

So, with the Galaxy performing about how ASA expects, what does this chart mean? Perhaps this is where the luck comes in. Not so much in a lucky bounce in for a goal, but in the lack of luck of their opponents. Lucky to be the team that is consistently a beneficiary of other teams’ misfortunes. And, in all honesty, I think Galaxy fans will take that.

Right now they sit at third place in the Western Conference, just two points out of first. They have a team that is only getting healthier, and the return of a star that will only make them better than they are now. With the second half of the season left to play, and MLS Cup aspirations in their sights, if this is lucky, maybe it is better than being good.

What do you think about how lucky this team is? Leave a comment below!