The LA Galaxy and LAFC miss the playoffs as a last-minute Real Salt Lake goal ended the city’s hopes and season.
By Edward Segal, Staff Writer
The MLS Cup will not be coming to LA this year as both the LA Galaxy and LAFC fell short on Decision Day.
Two of the five teams battling for the last three playoff spots were set to be eliminated on the final day of the regular season. Fate would have it that the two teams from LA would be the ones to get the boot from the playoff picture.
The fight for the final spots was between the Vancouver Whitecaps, Minnesota United, Real Salt Lake and LA’s two teams.
The Whitecaps gave up a goal to the Seattle Sounders in the first half, opening the door for both LA teams. However, Seattle’s lead was short-lived, with Vancouver tying the game 12 minutes after the first goal. They held that tie, clinching a playoff spot as both Real Salt Lake and LAFC were now four points behind them, both needing a victory to stay in the hunt.
LAFC went down 3-0 in their game against the Colorado Rapids, proceeding to trade goals afterward and lose 5-2. Their loss made the results around them irrelevant and ended their playoff aspirations on the spot.
“It’s hard when you depend on one game to save your season,” said LAFC forward and team captain Carlos Vela in the postgame press conference. “It’s not only about this game ... we didn’t do a great job this season.”
This marks the first time LAFC has missed the playoffs since the team’s inception in 2014.
The final two spots were up for grabs between the Galaxy, Minnesota and Salt Lake City, and the Galaxy looked primed to be a shoo-in for one of the spots as the final minutes ticked down on Decision Day.
In what was sure to be a thriller, the Galaxy and Minnesota United played their final game against each other. After conceding two goals in the first half, the Galaxy tied the score in the second half, only to give up another goal on a Minnesota counterattack. Down 3-2, the Galaxy kept attacking and eventually evened the score at three in the 75th minute when forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored on a rebound off his own shot, but it was all for naught.
At this point, it was a matter of time before the Real Salt Lake-Sporting Kansas City match ended in a 0-0 draw and the Galaxy and Minnesota secured their spots, but Real Salt Lake kept attacking till the final second.
In the fifth minute of injury time, Real Salt Lake forward Damir Kreilach scored off a bicycle-kick assist by forward Justin Meram, giving Real Salt Lake a 1-0 victory and the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
It all came down to the final 10 minutes of the game between Minnesota and LA. Minnesota came into the match with one more point than the Galaxy, so they would get the final spot in the event of a draw.
When the Galaxy gave up a penalty shot to Minnesota in the 87th minute on a handball by defender Derrick Williams, the game looked all but over. Still, Minnesota forward Franco Fragapane missed the shot off the left post, leaving the gates open for the most successful franchise in MLS history.
The Galaxy attacked, but after having one shot blocked and two saved by Minnesota goalie Tyler Miller, the team’s fate was sealed as they missed the postseason for a second straight year and for the fourth time in the last five years.
Galaxy’s Chicharito gave a similar response to Vela when comparing the end of their seasons.
“It’s obvious we didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs," said Chicharito in the post-game press conference. "For now, all I have in my mind and my brain is that it hurts. When you give everything to something, it hurts. I’m very hurt.”