The L.A. Galaxy faced a must win Saturday night at the Home Depot Center against the Vancouver Whitecaps and a win they got as Juninho and David Beckham provided highlight reel goals in a 2-0 victory. The win extends the Galaxy unbeaten streak to four games and keeps L.A. within striking distance of one of the top three playoff spots in the Western Conference playoff standings with six games left to play.
The game wasn't the best performance from the Galaxy, but stingy defense along with wonder goals from Juninho and Beckham were enough to earn three points. Juninho's resurgence has been a bright spot during the current L.A. Galaxy hot streak which has seen the squad climb into the thick of the West playoff race. Robbie Keane had a questionable goal called offside and tormented the Vancouver back line all night. Beckham bent a free kick from 25 yards out in the 79th minute as chaos broke out in front of the Vancouver goal right before Beckham struck the ball. It appeared to be the defense playing offside games coupled with confusion and the end result was another Beckham highlight.
The top three teams automatically qualify for a bye to the semi-final round with the fourth and fifth slugging it out in a one game playoff, something L.A. would like to avoid. The Galaxy find themselves three points back from second place Real Salt Lake after 28 games but are technically in fourth place. The Seattle Sounders are tied with the Galaxy at 43 points but hold two games in hand and currently hold the tie breaker against L.A. If the Galaxy cannot leapfrog RSL or breakaway from Seattle, they could play a one game death match against Vancouver or surging FC Dallas. The winner would get a semi-final date with San Jose. Every game down the stretch will be key to getting the first round bye.
MY THREE TAKEAWAYS
1. Six games remain and the home game against RSL on October 6 will be massive as will the finale at the Home Depot Center on October 28 against the Sounders. Sandwiched between those two games is a date with San Jose. As fun as it is to look forward to October the Galaxy need to take care of business the rest of September with two against Colorado and a visit from Toronto. Both teams are in last place in their respective conferences and need to be buried. There is no excuse for anything but nine points from those games.
2. The Galaxy defense will give this team a strong chance to repeat. While the goals from Juninho and Beckham will make the highlights, the 2011 Galaxy won a MLS Cup with shutout victories like the one on Saturday. The healthy back line of Dunivant, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, and Franklin in without a doubt the best in Major League Soccer.
3. Galaxy captain Landon Donovan missed the game with a hamstring injury suffered in the epic U.S.win in Mexico. It will be interesting to see if he plays in the upcoming qualifying matches against Jamaica.