Galaxy in must-win mode Sunday to make MLS playoffs

The long road of a Major League Soccer season has led the Galaxy to Sunday, finally in control of its own destiny.

“The last four weeks, we’ve been playing and we’ve had to hope for results and we just kept our heads down and kept working,” Galaxy defender Dave Romney said. “Now, we finally have the opportunity we’ve been working for, so it’s nice to kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In Game No. 34, Sunday at home against the Houston Dynamo (1:30 p.m., SpectrumSportsNet), Romney and the Galaxy need a win. That would jump the Galaxy (48 points) over sixth-place Real Salt Lake (49 points) for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

If the Galaxy loses or draws, RSL advances. A draw would leave the Galaxy tied on points, but RSL would have the first tiebreaker (wins).

Due to the unbalance schedule, RSL concluded its season last Sunday.

Even though the Galaxy has had its share of inconsistency, the past four games have seen the Galaxy turn in one of its best moments this season, going 3-0-1 with 10 goals scored and just two allowed.

“We started kind of slow and then had a really good patch, where we were unbeaten in nine and then went through a dry spell,” Romney said. “Now, we’re finishing hot again, so hopefully we’re hot at the right time and can carry this momentum with a win into the playoffs.

“The good thing is, we’ve had a really good locker room the whole year, a real good group of guys, everyone jells with each other, no one really pointing fingers that bad, like you would see in a team that was heading the way we were. And I think that helped a lot, to keep our head straight.”

This will be the second meeting between the teams this season. Houston edged the Galaxy 3-2 on May 5. The Galaxy led 2-1 on an 85th-minute goal from Ola Kamara, only to have Houston score the winner in the 90th minute from Memo Rodriguez.

Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.

Just because Houston is eliminated and the game is at the StubHub Center, the Galaxy is aware it can’t afford to overlook the situation. Mauro Manotas leads Houston with 17 goals and Alberth Ellis has 11.

“We’ve done so well to get ourselves into this position, but we do have to remind ourselves that it’s a huge game and we have to forget about everything we done up until this point,” Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lleget said. “Use the good stuff that we’ve learned and gained, but we have to apply ourselves and treat this like the steppingstone into the playoffs.

“We wanted things in our own hands and now we’re here. Everything went our way, things that we couldn’t control and things that we could control we took care of. Now we have to take care of Houston and then we’ll see who we get next.”

Giovani dos Santos working to return

If any player personifies the inconsistencies of this season, it would be Giovani dos Santos.

Dos Santos has played in just 13 games (three goals, two assists). He spent time with Mexico during the World Cup, but has battled numerous injuries with the Galaxy.

Dos Santos returned to full training this week and could be on the 18-man game day roster.

“I’m taking it day by day, but I’m really happy to be back on the field and training with the guys,” he said. “It’s been a difficult and frustrating last couple of months and I’m looking forward to contributing any way I can as we push for the playoffs.”

Leave a Reply