Morning after: Finding the Galaxy’s spot in the Western Conference playoff picture

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP Photo

Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP Photo

The L.A. Galaxy’s once-impenetrable home fortress fell on Sunday, crashing in a 5-2 loss to Portland.

It was just the second time this season the Galaxy have lost at home, with the first one coming to Vancouver in April, and the most goals conceded by the Galaxy at StubHub Center in an MLS game since Sept. 12, 2009 when they gave up six in a loss to FC Dallas.

More stunning than the loss itself was how it came. There were five second-half goals conceded by the Galaxy, all of them within the final 25 minutes of the game. After scoring in the 36th minute, the Galaxy didn’t get another shot for a whole 30 minutes until Sebastian Lletget nodded one on frame in the 66th minute.

And all this in a game that the Galaxy wanted desperately for playoff seeding.

Portland was fighting for its playoff life and played like it in the second half, while the Galaxy disappointed in their final regular-season home match.

“It doesn’t matter what’s at stake, if you’re playing in front of your supporters, it’s got to be better,” midfielder Steven Gerrard said of whether this game meant more to Portland. “We’ve got to be more physical, we’ve got to be tighter as a unit and defend better all over the pitch.

The Galaxy still control their own destiny, but to guarantee their first-round bye, they’ll need to win on the road against Sporting Kansas City, who have lost only once at home this year.

L.A. can finish as high as second in the Western Conference or as low as sixth. The easiest solution to the complicated web of possibilities would be to win on Oct. 25 against Sporting and get the No. 2 seed, but there are other ways the Galaxy can get around the knockout round as well:


Corrected to show that LA would need SKC to lose to Colorado on Wednesday instead of a loss or a draw if LA were to lose to SKC. (Graphic by Thuc Nhi Nguyen // LANG)

Corrected to show that LA would need SKC to lose to Colorado on Wednesday instead of a loss or a draw if LA were to lose to SKC. (Graphic by Thuc Nhi Nguyen // LANG)

The Galaxy were the hottest team in the league after a 5-1 drubbing over New York City FC in August, but are 1-3-2 in their six MLS matches since. The only team they beat during that run was FC Dallas, the team currently leading the Supporters’ Shield race and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Before the Galaxy’s game against Seattle a few weeks ago, defender A.J. DeLaGarza said the team was “too soft.” It didn’t win enough tackles, he said, to win games and play good defense.

DeLaGarza was hurt for Sunday’s game against Portland, which was why Dan Gargan got the start at right back, but that sentiment held true. Portland out-muscled L.A. and didn’t back down. Whether the Galaxy can match the physicality of opponents in the playoffs will be a major indicator of their success.

“I think if our physical effort is like it was tonight, we wouldn’t win too many games,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “We were purely physically dominated in every position.”


As told on Twitter

1′ Getting going

4′ Strong start for the Galaxy

36′ Keano strikes

50′ Portland comes on strong

66′ Portland equalizes

67′ Portland gets a penalty kick to go up 2-1

74′ Now it’s getting really out of hand for the Galaxy

84′ The King starts a comeback?

85′ (20 seconds later) Nope.

90′ One more for good measure

And to the victors go the spoils a.k.a. celebratory Twitter pictures


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