THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NO. 1: MLS PLAYOFFS: WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
GALAXY vs. REAL SALT LAKE
Details/TV: At StubHub Center, Sunday at 4:30 p.m., ESPN2:
The sport of kickball hasn’t coaxed as many distressing headlines in L.A. since Johan Cruyff and George Best were at their not-so-best. First, Chivas USA disbands. Then something call the LAFC comes out of nowhere with a star- studded ownership group – not including David Beckham, and it won’t be in full force until 2017. Now, if the Galaxy misses a beat, this really could be the last dance for Landon Donovan. The Galaxy’s “First to Five” postseason campaign will fold up unless they claim a win against the Salt Lakers, who benefit most from a scoreless tie these two had in Utah last weekend on the first leg of the home-and-home series. What does it all mean? “We have to win the (second) game, it’s that simple,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. The reason is because, if this ends in another tie, Salt Lake advances since it would have scored more road goals, so no penalty kicks will be necessary. If you need a reference point, the Galaxy outshot RSL 27-9 in their 2014 season opener at StubHub Center but still lost, 1-0, on March 8 – a full eight months ago. The Galaxy ended up going unbeaten (15-0-4) the rest of the home schedule, including a 1-0 win over RSL at StubHub on July 12 thanks to a goal by Hawthorne Leuzinger High grad Gyasi Zardes. Remember, a year ago, RSL eliminated the Galaxy from the MLS first round by losing the opener, 1-0, but winning the followup at home, 2-0.
THE BEST OF THE REST OF THE WEEK:
UCLA takes coach Jim Mora back to his alma mater for the first time as a head coach when the Bruins go to Seattle to face Washington (Saturday, 4 p.m., FS1); the Clippers play their fourth game in the five nights to start the season when they play host to Utah (Monday, 7:30 p.m., Prime) before a higher-profile game at Golden State (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket and ESPN); the Lakers may have their best shot at ending their first 0-4 L.A. start by playing host to Phoenix (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet) and Charlotte (Sunday, 6:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet); the Kings finally end their five-game road trip in Dallas (Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., FSW) before coming home to face the N.Y. Islanders (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., FSW); Bernard Hopkins faces Sergey Kovalev in a light heavyweight unification title bout in Atlantic City (Saturday, 10:45 p.m., HBO), and they’re going to try to set another NCAA single-game regular-season attendance record at the Coliseum when USC’s women’s soccer team plays host to UCLA (Friday, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network). The whole week ahead is linked here.