The LA Galaxy were red hot coming down the stretch, losing just once in all competitions since August 5 to lock down a playoff spot and put a scare into the rest of MLS who saw them beginning to look like the team that won MLS Cup a year ago. But the last few weeks of the season were not kind to them as players went down hurt and while the results were still there, the team was not in top form.
LA's injuries showed on Thursday night in their MLS Playoffs opener, a 2-1 win that eliminated the Vancouver Whitecaps, but a match in which they fell behind and looked uninspired for stretches against the woeful Caps. While they may have done enough to win that match, that won't be enough in the Western Conference semifinals, where they will take on the Supporters' Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes.
The Earthquakes were the best team in MLS this season from start to finish, playing very physically and making a habit of late comebacks to finish atop the league. They beat LA in two of three matches, with the Galaxy somewhat redeeming themselves with a draw in San Jose last month.
The Galaxy are still not healthy. A.J. DeLaGarza is out for the match and both Christian Wilhelmsson and Sean Franklin are questionable after missing the win over the Whitecaps. Add in Juninho, who was kicked late in Thursday's match, and there are health concerns all over the place for LA, which isn't good as they get ready to take on MLS's best.
First leg: Sunday, November 4, 6 p.m. PT - Home Depot Center, Carson, CA (ESPN)
Second leg: Wednesday, November 7, 8 p.m. PT - Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara, CA (ESPN2)