LAFC host the New England Revolution on Saturday evening. For both teams, now is not the time to slip up. The playoff race is in full force. Falling behind now would be disastrous.
It has been a long and arduous season. There has been ups and downs, periods of great jubilation; periods of tribulation. That is what happens when a league campaign stretches from March through to November. It is not possible to sail through it unaffected.
And so, as the playoff hunt intensifies and the league’s collective gaze shifts to the prospect of a postseason filled with hope, possibility and unruly excitement, it would be disastrous for any team, after all the work that they have put in to get this far, to fall short now.
There are approximately six games remaining for each team — not everyone has played the same number of games. This weekend’s slate will be one of the most important of the season. The international break is over, the domestic focus is back on and the final push for the playoffs is about to commence.
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And there isn’t another game played this weekend in which two teams have as much desperation for the three points as in Los Angeles, where Los Angeles FC welcome the New England Revolution to the Banc of California Stadium. As with most games at this stage of the season, there is a whole lot on the line.
The Revolution, after a disastrous run since early July, have slipped to eighth in the Eastern Conference, behind a resurgent D.C. United and on the outside of the playoff places looking in. This nightmare period has seen them fail to win a game between July 1 and Sept. 6. That is a staggering two months. It is astonishing that they are still in a position of making a playoff push.
And yet, if they win their game in hand on the Montreal Impact they will leapfrog the Canadians and have just D.C. to overhaul, who host the New York Red Bulls this weekend, an opponent that they have lost to twice already this season. For the Revs, after finally earning that precious win, even if it was a snatch-and-grab kind, dropping more points would be typically infuriating.
LAFC, meanwhile, are safe in the playoffs. They are not mathematically in the postseason, but it would take quite the tumble at this point in the season. LAFC are not looking at just a playoff place. They are searching for a Western Conference title, home-field advantage in the playoffs and a run at the MLS Cup.
After a run of three wins in their last four, of which the other was a draw, Bob Bradley has guided his team to just two points behind Sporting Kansas City and three points behind FC Dallas. With goals aplenty — only Atlanta United have scored more — this is a very dangerous team that has the attacking potency to knock any team off in the knockout format of the playoffs.
And given their force at home this season, if they were able to overhaul at least of Sporting KC or Dallas, then it would only strengthen their claim to an MLS Cup run. But to challenge at the sharp end of the West, this is a game that they cannot afford to drop points from.
So, we have two teams that are desperate for the victory. Points, at this stage of the season, are immensely precious. After all the work both teams have put in to get this far, it woud be a crying shame if everything faltered at the final hurdle. This should be a very intriguing contest indeed.