CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Romain Alessandrini said after training last week the five-time MLS Cup champions believe they will make the playoffs despite the fact they currently are on the outside looking in.

That belief, questioned by a number of critics lately, grew stronger after Sunday’s 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of a StubHub Center crowd of 25,659. It was the Galaxy’s second consecutive shutout – the first time that’s happened since wins over Montreal and San Jose on May 21 and May 25 – and left the Galaxy (12-11-8) seventh in the Western Conference with 44 points, just one point behind sixth-place Real Salt Lake. The top six teams in the conference qualify for postseason play and RSL plays at second-place Sporting Kansas City today.

Sporting KC, by the way, hosts the Galaxy on Oct. 6.

“We’re KC fans tomorrow,” Alessandrini joked with reporters, “but not next week.”

It has occasionally been a trying year for the native of Marseille, France who was last season’s leading scorer with 13 goals and 12 assists but often was asked this year to play out of position from his usual spot on the left wing. He now appears to be happier since he’s back in his usual spot in the Galaxy’s recently resurrected 4-4-2 formation and scored his 10th goal of the season Saturday.

Alessandrini, however, needed to ask Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the chance to do it.

Ibrahimovic had been brought down in the Vancouver penalty area by Doneil Henry in the 76th minute and was intent on scoring his third goal of the game. It would have been his first hat trick since scoring three times in a 4-3 victory over Orlando on July 29.

Alessandrini asked the Swedish sensation if he could take a shot at it.

“Usually he takes every (penalty),” Alessandrini said of his teammate who now has 20 goals. Former Galaxy standouts Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan each had 20 in 20015 and 2008, respectively. Eduardo Hurtado is next in single-season goals with 21 in 1996. “This one I just asked him, ‘Can I get this one?’ and he told me first, ‘Let me score a hat-trick.’ So I said ‘Please,’ and he said, ‘OK, go ahead.’

“So I just want to say thank you to him. It was good for me to get a goal.”

He also was well aware it marked his 10th of 2018.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I came in this team to score goals and give assists. Ten goals and seven assists is not so bad.

“I have to give more for the team.”

That will be no problem as far as he was concerned, and he said he could sense momentum building on the club.

“I think with these two wins you are more confident,” he said. “Everyone wants to get into the playoffs. Now we have to be focused and we showed tonight a lot of things.

“We’re happy with the result. Now we have to recover and move forward.”

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