CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy insist their regular-season finale Sunday against Seattle (9 pm ET; ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) is meaningful even if it means nothing for them. They're in fourth place in the Western Conference, aren't going to change that, and know that next Thursday's outing -- the playoff play-in clash with Vancouver -- is the game that really matters.
Consider this one a dress rehearsal.
“It doesn't matter if it means something in terms of placement or not, and it doesn't -- we know that,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan said. “But in our minds, it means a lot because it means momentum, getting a rhythm, getting certain guys minutes and continue to coordinate ourselves so that we're really ready for the next challenge.”
LA hope to get Landon Donovan and David Beckham back onto the field following injuries, to sharpen their games before the playoffs, and would like to break a three-game MLS winless streak that followed a 12-3-2 tear over a little more than three months.
“I think in the past, every time you watch, you go back after the team won the championship, you see it's kind of the team that went into the playoffs being the hottest,” midfielder Mike Magee said. “I don't see it being any different this year. We always expect to win, even when we're playing a game other people might see as meaningless. [This game] isn't. It's much bigger than that.”
Said right back Sean Franklin: “We want to get three points because say we do go to the finals and we play against an East team that has less points than us. Then it all matters as far as who's hosting it.”
The only Eastern playoff team that could come to L.A. for an MLS Cup final is fifth-place Houston, and then only if the Galaxy (15-12-6) beats the Sounders (15-7-11), who do have something to play for: They need at least a draw to pip Real Salt Lake for second place in the West and the home assignment in the second leg of the clubs' conference semifinal series.
The Sounders have won both meetings this season, 2-0 in May and 4-0 in August, both in Seattle.
The Galaxy's hopes to skip the play-in game died with last weekend's draw at San Jose, but the prospect of an extra playoff game doesn't bother them much.
“Honestly, the way we look at it,” Sarachan said, “it's certainly nervy when you have one game and you could be out, but we have a lot of confidence in this group, and I think getting that game [against Vancouver] and getting a rhythm, we do well well from a Wednesday-Saturday or Thursday-Sunday rhythm. I think we use this opportunity as an advantage, to get a good rhythm and get some momentum.”