There are very few people in this world that list mathematics as their favorite subject. But math became a buzzword in Los Angeles this past weekend. With the way the Western Conference teams played out last weekend's slate of games, the Galaxy mathematically qualified for the playoffs. With San Jose's win however, they were mathematically eliminated from any hope of finishing first out West.
With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs no longer available, the Galaxy insist that nothing has changed as far as their outlook on the rest of the regular season schedule.
"We're still fighting for home-field advantage in the first round of against Dallas," said Galaxy right back Chris Albright. "Even if we could catch first place we've still got to wrap up second, so it doesn't make much of a difference."
With Real Salt Lake pushed to the brink of elimination, all four playoff spots in the West are almost finalized. Colorado is the only team yet to be guaranteed a trip to the postseason. Yet nothing is set in stone as far as where the teams will finish in the final standings. With the recent slip-ups in Colorado, it's most likely going to be a two-horse race between FC Dallas and the Galaxy for the No. 2 spot.
Considering the Galaxy's history of lackluster road performances in the past, head coach Steve Sampson knows how important it is for his team to finish strong.
"We would prefer to finish second and have home-field advantage for the first round," said Sampson. "Equally important is that we continue to find our form heading into the playoffs."
What should help is that the Galaxy has been at full strength the past two weeks, and barring injury should be able to close out the season with nearly a full complement of players. The difference has been obvious on the field where the Green and Gold cruised past Colorado 4-1 at home, picked up a valuable road point in Kansas City and advanced to the U.S. Open Cup final, all in the course of a week.
With a little fine-tuning, Todd Dunivant knows that this year's Galaxy squad will be a team to be reckoned with come late October.
"We have to keep improving and peaking at the right time. We've been talking about that all year," said Dunivant. "If we can keep playing good soccer, if we're firing on all cylinders, we're a team that nobody wants to face in the playoffs."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.