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USA Today Sports

LA Galaxy retain playoff hopes, but recognize Seattle's visit as a must-win

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have been beaten up badly in most of the “must-win” games they've played in the past month, and now they find themselves in actual must-win territory.

A loss at home Sunday to Seattle Sounders FC (7 pm ET | FS1 – Full TV and streaming info) won't mathematically eliminate LA from the postseason chase, but it might as well. The Galaxy (10-11-8) sit eighth in the West, six points behind sixth-place Seattle, seven behind fifth-place Real Salt Lake, nine back of LAFC and Portland. They've got five games to make up the difference.

“We have to win the game, let's be honest,” interim head coach Dominic Kinnear said following LA’s training session Thursday morning at StubHub Center. “I think if we lose the game, we're in real big trouble, and I think our playoff lifeline is hanging by a thread.”

Win, and who knows? The Galaxy welcome seventh-place Vancouver, just two points ahead, to StubHub the following weekend. Portland and RSL, in particular, have tough schedules, including home-and-home meetings between them. LA's paying attention.

“Last night I was pretty pumped when Seattle lost [on a last-minute goal to Philadelphia],” defender Dave Romney said. “After the weekend, we needed to [overcome] Portland, because they had one more game played than Seattle and [were behind the Sounders]. And then it flipped last night [with Portland beating Columbus].”

The Timbers and RSL also have five games remaining. Seattle, LAFC and Vancouver have six to go.

“We must win four games,” forward Ola Kamara said. “For me, I think it's very important for us to try to reach that 50-point mark. I think that should be the focus.”

The Galaxy, who finish with games Oct. 6 at Sporting Kansas City, Oct. 21 at Minnesota United and Oct. 28 at home against Houston, haven't won since June ended. They're seven games into a winless streak in which they've conceded 23 goals, 16 of them in three successive road losses. Had they not let leads slip away in the first three of these games, they'd be right in the heart of the Western Conference playoff field.

“We're in a tough spot,” defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen said. “But having said that, it's not impossible. It's been done before. One win can lead to three. But the first is always the toughest, and we need to go out and give everything we have, 'cause it's crunch time.”

Kamara saw positives in last weekend's 5-3 loss at Toronto that LA can build upon.

“I thought we played well, and Toronto's a good team,” he said. “For me, I'm actually very positive for the next five games. I think this is about playing as a team, and we've got to get a shutout, we've got to be better defensively as a team, everybody's got to do their job, and then we have to compete more, and hopefully, get some goals as well.

“I've been looking at the schedule. There's [several] teams that actually have a difficult schedule. Even though they have more points and maybe one less game [already played] than us, they have very difficult games coming up. We can catch two of three teams, but it has to start with us.”

And finish badly for someone else.

“Any team can blow up,” Romney said. “We were on a good stretch [from late May through July], and then we just started hitting a rough patch. Any team can hit a rough patch at the worst time.”