Arena: "We've been controlling our destiny for a long time"
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy head into their final two regular-season games certain of one thing: They will determine where they finish in the Western Conference.
The goal is to avoid fourth place and the No 4 vs. 5 knockout game against Vancouver or FC Dallas, and LA will do so – following Seattle's scoreless draw Wednesday night with Real Salt Lake – if they win Sunday at San Jose (7 pm ET; Galavision) and a week later against Seattle at the Home Depot Center.
The draw left the Galaxy (15-12-5) six points behind RSL and three in back of Seattle in the fight for second, third and fourth in the West.
Head coach Bruce Arena watched the match, and was happy to offer his take: “The game was awful; that surface [at CenturyLink Field] is becoming like playing in a parking lot.”
He also acknowledged, in his manner, that it's worthwhile to be in control.
“Sure, we can put two wins together, we can end up in second or third place,” he said. “If we could have won 10 previous games, we wouldn't have to worry about that. We've been controlling our destiny for a long time.”
Midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson, meanwhile, was a bit more sanguine: “Now it's up to us. Just focus and do our job. We don't need to think about other results, just focus on our games.”
Seattle play Sunday against FC Dallas, and the Galaxy can afford to match results with the Sounders. They are eight goals ahead in the tiebreaker, so if they end up even, LA will place higher.
If Vancouver beat RSL on Oct. 27, the Galaxy – with a 10-goal advantage on the Claret-and-Cobalt – would jump to second with two victories.
“You know, this might be one of the crazier playoff things going around since I've been in the league,” said Omar Gonzalez. “There's a lot that can happen, and I just want it to go our way.”
Defender Todd Dunivant praised Seattle for doing “really well to keep the zero and play a man down for 60 minutes and kind of kill the game off and actually create a lot of chances themselves” and noted that “it's clear nobody wants to have that No. 4 seed.”
So by his reckoning, the result was good.
“Anything but a Seattle win was going to help us, so we're really happy about that,” he said. “It's in our destiny now. We win two games and we get at least the third spot. It's up to us.”