KANSAS CITY, Kan. – After a disappointing Decision Day presented by AT&T performance, LAFC ended up in third place in the Western Conference, despite setting the points record for an expansion team. In a “winner take all” game with Sporting KC for the top seed in the West, they laid an egg with a 2-1 loss.
“In the moment, I’m disappointed with the way we played,” said LAFC manager Bob Bradley after Sunday's loss at Children's Mercy Park. “But we’ve had other times this year where I think we responded really well to a game that didn’t go the way we wanted, or didn’t play the way we normally do. So that’s the challenge this time around.”
Bradley was critical of his team’s performance against Sporting KC, saying “I don’t think we were any good today.”
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Bradley continued, “But I also understand it’s the end of the regular season and the playoffs are coming really quickly. So immediately, the focus turns towards recovery and getting ready for Salt Lake.”
With a win, LAFC would’ve gone into first place in the Western Conference and avoided the Knockout Round altogether. But Daniel Salloi’s shorthanded winner saw them drop to fourth place, until FC Dallas lost their 1-0 lead and dropped three points in Colorado.
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Then came the permutations for LAFC's playoff opponent. The LA Galaxy held the sixth spot going into halftime, needing a win to surpass RSL. But Houston’s turnaround in a 3-2 win at StubHub Center ended a potential “El Trafico” matchup.
LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller was indifferent to the fact that the Galaxy missed out.
“There's only six teams that are going to make it, and I think we deserved to be in,” Miller said. “I think we earned a lot of the results we got this year. We got a little bit unlucky in some games, but when it comes to your rival, it’s all fair game. So we got in the playoffs, they didn’t make the playoffs, and that’s just how it is.”
Real Salt Lake pose a new test to LAFC, as they have to play their match on a quick turnaround, while RSL have had ten days of rest since their last match, being the odd-numbered team forced to sit out Decision Day. While LAFC are disappointed that they couldn’t have avoided the Knockout Round, they’re ready to move on to their first playoff match.
“Everybody is disappointed with the result, but excited about what’s ahead," midfielder Benny Feilhaber said. "Obviously we have a big game against Real Salt Lake now. We’ll start preparing tomorrow. Everybody is excited about that possibility, our first playoff game as a club and an organization. We’re ready for it.”