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LA Galaxy Vs. Red Bulls: Champions League Is A Killer

When the LA Galaxy take the pitch against the New York Red Bulls this afternoon, they’ll have to try and reverse a negative trend in MLS. Since the CONCACAF Champions League expanded their format in 2008 to include group stages, those team which qualify four the group stages haven’t fared well in MLS Cup play. In seven MLS Cup playoff ties featuring a team that made the Champions League group stage, only once did the Champions League team win.

So far in 2011, FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids, and Seattle Sounders have all played a playoff game after playing the Champions League group stage. FC Dallas lost 0-2, the Rapids won 1-0, and the Sounders lost the first leg of their quarterfinal tie 3-0.

MLS Cup Quarterfinals (home and home aggregate):

2010 Group Stage: Real Salt Lake, Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders

Colorado Rapids 2 – Columbus Crew 2 (Rapids win 5-4 on PSO)
LA Galaxy 3 – Seattle Sounders 1
FC Dallas 3 – Real Salt Lake 2

2009 Group Stage: Columbus Crew, Houston Dynamo, DC United

Real Salt Lake 4 – Columbus Crew 2
Houston Dynamo 1 – Sounders 0
DC United didn’t make playoffs

2008 Group Stage: Houston Dynamo, DC United

New York Red Bulls 4 – Houston Dynamo 1
DC United didn’t make playoffs

MLS Cup Semifinals:

2009: LA Galaxy 2 – Houston Dynamo 0

Were the Galaxy to make it through this tie with New York, they’d be just the second team since 2008 to make it through to the semifinals while also playing in the Champions League group stage. Were they to make it to the MLS Cup final, they’d be the first such team to do so.