LA Galaxy flirt with playoffs disaster: “Our season is on the line now”

0914 LA Sider

Through Week 31, the LA Galaxy are in real danger of missing the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive season and fifth time in the past six years.

“Similar to last year, we shouldn’t even be in this position,” said defender Derrick Williams following the club’s stunning 3-0 defeat to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday at BC Place. “Today was a perfect example; we dominate the ball, don’t create the chances, they score a goal, and then things fall apart. It’s frustrating, but we have to get on with it."

Dating back to early July, LA have won just three of their last 13 matches (3W-6L-4D) and emerged victorious from only one of their last six games down the stretch. That leaves the Galaxy at eighth place and three points off seventh-place Real Salt Lake – with a game in hand – for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

If LA indeed miss out, it’ll mark a second straight absence under head coach Greg Vanney, who joined ahead of the 2021 campaign from Toronto FC. He completed a historic treble in 2017 with the Reds, lifting MLS Cup, the Supporters' Shield and the Canadian Championship.

"It comes down to execution and I feel like we’ve allowed these opportunities to come into a game where we can execute and move ourselves into a good spot and we don’t get across the line in the way we need to,” said Vanney postgame, after Vancouver scored three second-half goals.

“Again, it’s a mentality that we have to turn – turning draws into wins and things like that – and it’s time for us to press forward on that. It’s the thing that we discuss a lot with our group: taking that next big step forward to turn possession into attacks, turn attacks into goals, put teams away, move up the table. It’s all the same thing. It’s a mentality.”

Williams added: “We were just six unbeaten, but we need to turn some of these draws into wins and our season is on the line now, so we have to do it. If we don’t do it, we don’t deserve it, so let’s go. We’re ready.”

In 2021, after a strong start to the year under Vanney – his first year in charge of the Galaxy – LA crumbled, winning just two of their final 15 games down the stretch, finishing tied for the final playoff spot, but missing the postseason via a tiebreaker on Decision Day.

They’re hoping to avoid the same fate this season, and they have the opportunity to re-write their own narrative. LA are not out of the playoff race just yet, but Wednesday night’s defeat will be seen as a major wake-up call.

With Seattle Sounders FC and the Colorado Rapids both hot on their tail, and just four regular-season games remaining, LA know they can’t afford to drop many more points – making Saturday’s match against the visiting Rapids that much more important (10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). Colorado, who trail Vanney’s side by just a single point, beat the Galaxy 2-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on July 16.

“We have another massive game, biggest game of the season coming up, and we have to put this one behind us,” Williams said. “Have this feeling that we’re feeling now and bring it into the game, so we’re hurting a bit, so everyone’s like ‘Come on, let’s leave it all out there and really go for this game.’”