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Steve Carrillo

Galaxy’s fight for the playoffs begins with Dallas and a short week

The LA Galaxy sit a precarious playoff position. While it’s true that three points could vault them into second place in the Western Conference (up from fifth place), a loss could mean dropping below the playoff line for the first time since the second week of the season.

That’s how it goes in the competitive Western Conference where the difference between second place and seventh place is only three points and where the final ten games are about to come hot and heavy.

The Galaxy (12-11-1), coming off a disappointing result against DC United on Sunday evening chartered home from the Nation’s Capital arriving at 3:30 a.m. on Monday. Later that afternoon, they were back on the field training as they prepare to welcome FC Dallas to Dignity Health Sports Park on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. PT; SpectrumSN).

Dallas (10-9-6) are coming off a 5-3 win over Minnesota United and are looking to extend their five-game winning streak and seven-game unbeaten streak against the Galaxy. In fact, the last time the Galaxy won a meeting between the two teams — September 27, 2015 — Bruce Arena was still at the helm, and the Galaxy were playing as defending MLS Cup Champs. They’re also losers of just three of their last ten games and could jump the Galaxy with a victory.

Losers in their last three games, this will be the first time back at home for the Galaxy since beating LAFC 3-2. And with a home record that has twice as many wins as losses (8-4-0), the Galaxy will be looking to get back on track in LA.

They’ll host the next two games at home with both of those games coming this week, and both against conference opponents — the Seattle Sounders travel to LA on Saturday (7 p.m. PT; ESPN2).

Zlatan Ibrahimovic set a new MLS record with 15 shots on Sunday night, and the Galaxy launched 29 shots in the general vicinity of the goal, but still ended up losers on the night against DC. But Cristian Pavon made his MLS and Galaxy debut to much success, and while his fitness will undoubtedly be called into question should he start this game, he’s still likely to have a genuine impact.

Galaxy Head Coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto will have his hands full as he attempts to rotate the lineup to make two competitive teams for both the Wednesday and Saturday matches. And in doing so, that may mean that Pavon gets the bench instead of the start. But that could also mean Julian Araujo gets the start at right-back and Sebastian Lletget moves from the bench to the field.

There are options to rotate for Schelotto, and he’s going to have to use all those options smartly.

The most important thing, for the Galaxy, however, will be to pick up points from both games. With just five home games remaining on the schedule, taking points from all five will be vital to getting into the playoffs. And if the Galaxy want to get fancy, taking points from seven out of ten might be necessary to secure the first-round home game.

But all around the Western Conference, the same congested schedule will be playing out. So don’t expect consistency from any of the teams as they sprint towards the end of the 2019 season.