Robbie Keane’s 20th MLS goal of the season was not enough to prevent the LA Galaxy from falling to a 2-1 defeat at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday night, as the result dropped Bruce Arena’s men from a first-round playoff bye into a winner-takes-all road game at the Seattle Sounders.
Sporting KC’s Kevin Ellis opened the scoring in the 38th-minute in controversial fashion when he fired in Chance Myers’ rebounded shot from what looked to be an offside position, but Keane soon equalised in first-half stoppage-time thanks to a through ball from former Tottenham Hotspur teammate Giovani dos Santos.
The Galaxy failed to capitalise on their star skipper’s chipped finish over KC keeper Tim Melia, however, as they struggled after the break and were made it pay in the 65th-minute when Dom Dwyer sealed the hosts’ the Western Conference’s sixth playoff place with what proved to be the winner.
LA themselves go into the post-season as the West’s fifth seed but a victory at Sporting Park could have secured them the No. 2 spot and full week of rest before the conference semifinals kick off next weekend.
Instead, a dismal run of just one win in their final seven regular-season games means they now head to Seattle for a knockout showdown with their rivals on Wednesday night, when they will have to find a way to stop the likes of Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey.
The MLS Cup holders had looked like legitimate Supporters’ Shield contenders just two months ago after netting five goals for the seventh time in nine competitive home games in a 5-1 thrashing of New York City FC but their form has since dropped off in dramatic fashion, as big-name summer signings Steven Gerrard and Dos Santos have failed to make the intended impact.
Nevertheless, with the ever-reliable Keane on a run of 17 goals in just 14 league games, the likes of defender A.J. DeLaGarza are still feeling confident about the Seattle showdown – especially after getting past them during two of their past three championship runs over the last four seasons.
“We’ve been to Seattle in the playoffs the last few years,” he told the Galaxy’s official website after the defeat to SKC. “We didn’t win last year, but we got the result that got us through [to the 2014 MLS Cup]. We’re excited.
“We played well at times today, I thought. We had a good number of chances and if we play like that on [Wednesday], I think we can get another result.”