A four-year wait could be over for the Galaxy this weekend.
The Galaxy will qualify for the playoffs for the first time since the MLS Cup-winning season of 2005 if they defeat the Fire and Chivas USA ties or wins at D.C. United.
How long ago is that?
That was a team that featured Naldo, Pablo Chinchilla and one-season wonder Herculez Gomez, scorer of 11 goals in 22 games. It was a team fabulous in its total mediocrity you’ll recall; the Galaxy barely qualified for the playoffs with a 13-13-6 record and then improbably went on to win the MLS title when Pando Ramirez belatedly recognized what a goal net was and actually scored.
Among the worst things that ever happened to the Galaxy.
It meant Steve Sampson stuck around until mid-2006 and Alexi Lalas joined after GM Doug Hamilton died on a airplane coming back from a CONCACAF Champions Cup clash the following season.
And we know what happened from there.
Tonight is an opportunity for the Galaxy to put that unpleasant past behind them before a national television audience (8 p.m. ESPN2).
It won’t be easy. The Fire can also clinch a post-season berth with a win (and if D.C. United fails to defeat Chivas USA).
Pulling for Chivas USA isn’t the only thing the clubs have in common. There are all sorts of unusual similarities between the teams right down to home goal differential. Check out the statistical parallels here.
The Fire are the best road team in the league and have the aerial arsenal of veteran Brian McBride at their disposal after his return from injury.
Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Rolling Hills Estates’ John Thorrington are out for the Fire, although David Beckham and A.J. DeLaGarza are expected to return for the Galaxy. Galaxy midfielder Dema Kovalenko faces a late fitness test; Stefani Miglioranzi is out.
There’s more here.
Updated bonus quotes from reporter Phil Collin:
Here’s Landon Donovan on the implications of the game:
“We realize that most likely if we win this game we’re in the playoffs. We worked very hard this year at putting ourselves in this position and now we control our own destiny, which is great. And we have an opportunity in front of our fans to seal it.
“We have done a really good job starting with Bruce and then with our veteran guys of changing the way our team functions on a daily basis. That doesn’t come down to one person or one coach or one player. That comes down to a lot of people stepping up to take responsibility and we’ve all done that. The teams that are successful in this league have those qualities.”
Here’s Coach Bruce Arena, on why there have been some topsy-turvy results lately:
“Tension is part of it and I also think as we’ve said all along there’s a real fine line between all the teams that are just a step out of the playoffs. The teams that have played well lately are teams that have been at the bottom of the standings. Perhaps there’s no pressure on them.
One last thing: Win or lose DeLagarza, Chris Birchall and Miss LA Galaxy will be at the newly-opened Chipotle in Hermosa Beach, 1439 Pacific Coast Highway, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Yum.
Updated: BTW, since we’re reminiscing here, The Seattle Times has a profile of former Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid today. Check out the article here.