In other words, the playoffs are kind of already here.
LAFC are currently below the playoff line in the Western Conference, and we’re getting to the time of year where that becomes important for their season. On the bright side, at the moment they are only a point out of the final postseason spot and there’s still nine more games in the regular season to secure qualification.
Still, qualification is not yet assured, not even close. Would another three-game winning streak do it? Nope, but it would help quite a bit. Next up is a vital showdown against the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park on Saturday.
LAFC hold an all-time advantage of 6W-4L-0D against the Quakes in league play, but that doesn’t really tell the current story in this series. LAFC last beat the Earthquakes on Sept. 2, 2020, by a healthy 5-1 margin, which had been the prevailing trend to that point between the teams. Since then, San Jose have won the last three meetings, each time by one goal, most recently on Aug. 8.
The Earthquakes sit three points behind LAFC, so this is a vital game for them, too, and while few nationally expect them to make the playoffs, they’ve been playing really pretty well for a few months now and could very well shock the world yet again this year. So this game is a proverbial “six-pointer” for both teams, as a win would do either team’s playoff prospects plenty of good, while helping to push a rival down in the process.
LAFC’s road record hasn’t been very good this year, as they are 3W-8L-1D in 2021 away from The Banc. This isn’t a shock in MLS, with only two teams in the West on winning road records at the moment. And add to that San Jose’s home form, which is a poor 3W-6L-3D so far this season, the second-worst mark in the conference. Both teams have to like their chances here.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter how much they like their chances, these teams need to get wins, and with LAFC’s lofty expectations, reaching the playoffs in itself is merely the very absolute bare minimum expected this year, when it looked like they could be contenders. If they make a deep run in the playoffs and beyond, all will be forgiven, but they can’t do that until they beat the San Jose’s of the world on a random September night. Here’s hoping the black-and-gold are fully up for the task ahead in a very big game.
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