The LA Galaxy's tumultuous season of drama – and underachievement – ended in fitting fashion at StubHub Center on Sunday, as the home side blew a 2-0 first-half lead and lost 3-2 to the Houston Dynamo in a game they needed to win to qualify for the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Things were looking rosy for the Galaxy after half an hour, as Ola Kamara bagged a quickfire brace. The Norwegian beat Joe Willis with a glancing header off an inswinging cross by Romain Alessandrini in the 27th minute, and almost exactly three minutes later met Ashley Cole's teasing low delivery with a thumping one-time finish to give LA a dream start.
But Romell Quioto sparked jitters around the stadium early in the second half when he bamboozled Rolf Feltscher with a series of cuts in the Galaxy penalty box before rolling a low strike inside the near post to cut the lead in half. Then Alessandrini rashly kicked former LA hero AJ DeLaGarza to gift the Dynamo a penalty kick, dispatched by Mauro Manotas to level matters at 2-2.
With LA in shock, Manotas gleefully struck again six minutes later with a point-blank tap-in of Alberth Elis' low cross to put the visitors – who were playing only for pride – ahead. Both sides saw late goals waved off by offside decisions as the Galaxy made a final, desperate push all the way through nine minutes of added time, but it was no use.
The result eliminates LA from the postseason picture and allows Real Salt Lake to claim the Western Conference's sixth and final playoff berth.
- 27' – LA – Ola Kamara | WATCH
- 30' – LA – Ola Kamara | WATCH
- 57' – HOU – Romell Quioto | WATCH
- 73' – HOU – Mauro Manotas (PK) | WATCH
- 79' – HOU – Mauro Manotas | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: The Galaxy just needed to beat a slumping team 13 points and three places below them in the standings to complete their long, late climb towards the playoffs, and got the job one-third done before losing the plot completely. It feels safe to call this one of the most epic collapses in recent MLS history.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Alessandrini's jaw-dropping loss of awareness to give up the PK and let Houston get level turned this match on its head, and was all the more stunning given that the Frenchman is usually one of LA's most dependable performers.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Elis and Quioto deserve strong consideration for this nod; yet Manotas' name is on the two decisive goals, so the young Colombian takes the prize.
- LA: End of season
- HOU: End of season