The Los Angeles Football Club has clinched a postseason berth and its first playoff game is at least 20 days away. But forward Diego Rossi says this is no time to pause and admire those accomplishments because there is much still to play for, beginning with Friday’s match against the Houston Dynamo at Banc of California Stadium.
“They’re very important,” Rossi, speaking in Spanish, said of the team’s final three regular-season games. “For positioning us in the standings and to win the conference.”
The top six teams in each conference advance to the MLS postseason, and the top two get a bye into the two conference semifinals, where they will have the home-field advantage. And that’s a big edge in a league where the home team loses less than 26% of the time.
LAFC is tied with Sporting Kansas City with 53 points, four behind first-place Dallas. With a win over Houston, LAFC would still have a chance at a top-two finish heading into the final game of the regular season in Kansas City.
Anything less and the team could tumble to as low as fifth by the end of the season, meaning it would open the playoffs on the road in the one-game knockout round. LAFC is 8-1-6 at home, 7-7-2 on the road.
“You get a tough draw, play away from home, a few things don’t go your way and you’re out of the playoffs,” said midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who played on Sporting Kansas City teams that were eliminated in first-round road losses the last four seasons. “I really hope that we don’t put ourselves in that kind of position.”
LAFC, which last week became the fourth team in MLS history to reach the playoffs in its expansion season, has lost just two of nine matches since Aug. 8, when it fell to Houston — which is 9-14-8 and eliminated from postseason consideration — on penalty kicks in a semifinal of the U.S. Open Cup.
Goalkeeper Tyler Miller has four shutouts and has allowed multiple goals in a game only twice in that span. He has 10 shutouts this season.