The Galaxy came to Dallas on Saturday looking for a win and a playoff berth. They’ll head home Sunday with one of those after losing to FC Dallas, 1-0, but backing into a postseason invitation when Portland lost to Colorado.
And that leaves them with a lot of work to do over the next three weeks if they hope to make their playoff run a long one.
Saturday’s loss elimi-nated the team from contention for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Another loss in their final two games probably would cost them the slim chance they have left at finishing second in the conference and earning a bye into the conference semifinals.
So, at a time when they should be building confidence, the Galaxy’s recent form has left the team grasping for answers and facing the likelihood of a first-round elimination game in the playoffs.
“We need a reaction,” Steven Gerrard said.
Asked what kind of reaction, the best Gerrard could come up with was “a big reaction.”
The Galaxy lacked that Saturday, losing for the second time in six days, the first time they have lost consecutive MLS games since last October. They’ve also won just twice in their last 13 tries — seven of which ended in draws.
That hasn’t happened since Coach Bruce Arena took over the team midway through the 2008 season. But Arena doesn’t have to go back far to find the last time a late-season collapse followed the Galaxy into the postseason: Last fall they won only one of their final seven regular-season games, then saw their postseason end after 90 minutes.
Saturday, Dallas got the only goal it needed Saturday in the 39th minute when Walker Zimmerman, a defender, bounced in a header off a Mauro Diaz corner kick.
“Pretty foolish goal to concede in the first half,” said Arena, whose team has struggled on set pieces all year. “Everyone knows their responsibilities.”
Speaking of responsibilities, for the second time in a week Robbie Keane shirked his and declined to speak with the media after a loss. In fact, Keane hasn’t spoken postgame since Landon Donovan returned from retirement in mid-September.
Not that he would have had much to say, given that the Galaxy had one shot on goal — none after Chris Seitz’s stout save on Keane in the fifth minute.
The Galaxy’s next-best best chance also came early in the first half when Keane, Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos raced upfield on a 3-on-2 breakaway. Gerrard wound up with the ball well inside the area on the right side, but with Seitz charging off his line to cut down the angle, Gerrard pushed his right-footed shot wide.
The Galaxy will take the next 14 days off for the international break, giving the team a chance to regroup before it closes the regular season with a road game against last-place Houston and a home rematch with first-place Dallas.
“We’re playing some players right now that aren’t fit,” Arena said. “We’ve got to use the last two games to get our team ready for the playoffs.”
Added Gerrard: “We’ve got six points to play for. We need to go for maximum points and position ourselves better than we did last year.”