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L.A. Galaxy is whistling a happy tune these days

Athletes frequently use geologic terms in describing their seasons, likening the highs and lows to peaks and valleys.

Sure it’s a cliche. Which is why you have to give defender Todd Dunivant credit for originality when he picks music as his metaphor for the Galaxy’s recent success.

“The team’s kind of fallen into a natural rhythm,” Dunivant, a hard-core Beatles fan, said after Friday’s practice.

Major League Soccer’s defending champions have gone 8-1-2 in their last 11 matches, posting shutouts in their last five victories. That sent the team into Saturday night’s game against FC Toronto at the Home Depot Center needing one win in its final five matches to clinch a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season. (Go to latimes.com for results of Saturday’s match.)

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So don’t expect the Galaxy to change its tune now because it has an even bigger encore planned.

“It’s safe to assume that we’re most likely going to be in the playoffs. But there’s a lot going on with seeding. We’ve got to keep winning games,” captain Landon Donovan said.

“Right now our mentality is good, our attitude is good. We’re confident. And we’ve just got to go on the field and perform. It’s really as simple as that: If we do things right, then more often than not we’re going to win games.”

Indeed there is much still to be decided. If the Galaxy finishes fourth or fifth in the Western Conference — Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake entered Saturday sharing the third spot with 46 points — it would have to win a one-game playoff to qualify for the main portion of the postseason tournament. And if it finishes third, the Galaxy will lose home-field advantage at least for the conference semifinals.

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“We don’t have the luxury of admiring anything we’re doing or thinking we’re great. Because we’re still far away from where we want to be,” Donovan said.

The Galaxy also is far away from where it was just a few months ago, which is good since its playoff hopes were considered bleak when the team entered June last in the conference. The road ahead gets even more challenging, though, since the Galaxy finishes the season against the other three teams at the top of the Western Conference standings, giving it a good chance to gain — or lose — ground in the race for playoff seeding.

For Dunivant, that’s all just a prelude to what he hopes will be a rhapsody in Galaxy blue this fall.

“You gain momentum. And you start winning and the little bounces that weren’t going your way at the beginning of the year, go your way suddenly,” Dunivant said. “You’re suddenly in the right spot. And when you do things the right way over time, the bounces are going to go your way. The balls off the crossbar are going to go in.

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“It’s funny how it works. We weren’t getting those breaks at the beginning of the year because we didn’t earn them. We’re earning those breaks now.”

kevin.baxter@latimes.com


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