Greg Vanney says LA Galaxy are approaching their Decision Day showdown with Houston Dynamo as though “it is a playoff game” as they target home advantage in the post-season.
The Galaxy clinched their first MLS Cup Playoffs spot in three years last week with a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake.
Vanney’s side are fourth in the Western Conference, which would mean a home tie in the playoffs, though anything other than victory against Houston would likely change that.
“We want to get a good result,” head coach Vanney said. “Certainly we would like to get home-field advantage.
“There’s a lot of reasons for us to go out and really focus with the right mentality and approach this game as if it’s a playoff game.
“Momentum is precious in MLS. We’ve been on a good stretch over the last set of games. We just want to be in the right mindset as we venture toward the playoffs.”
The Galaxy have won just two of their past seven games and only have a two-point advantage on the three teams directly below them, meaning they could slip to seventh.
Houston have less to play for on Sunday as they are 13th and are simply fighting to avoid finishing bottom of the West, with San Jose Earthquakes two points behind.
However, on the back of beating Nashville SC 2-1 last time out, it presents another chance for interim head coach Kenny Bundy to land the job permanently.
“I can only control what I can control,” Bundy said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to change the perception and gather momentum going into the next year.
“For me, my goals are very clear: I want to be in MLS and I want to be an MLS head coach. When that time comes, well that’s not up to me.
“We have one game left to change the perception of this team and gather momentum ahead of a really important year next year.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Houston Dynamo – Sebas Ferreira
Ferreira scored both goals in last week’s 2-1 win over Nashville to take his tally for the season to 12, which is the most of any Dynamo player in his first season at the club. The 24-year-old will now be eager to end the 2022 season on a high and provide Dynamo supporters with some hope looking ahead to next season.
LA Galaxy – Douglas Costa
Costa marked his return from suspension with a goal in the 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake, the former Bayern Munich and Juventus attacker converting from the penalty spot. Having talked up the importance of momentum, Vanney could do with Costa – and indeed each of Galaxy’s forwards – building confidence with some goals on Sunday.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Dynamo recorded a 3-0 road win over the Galaxy on May 22. Houston have recorded multiple wins over LA in a single season just twice in club history, doing so in 2006 and 2018, with the second win in 2018 coming on the final day of the season, knocking the Galaxy out of the playoffs.
– Houston’s 2-1 win at Nashville on Sunday was the third win in their past six games (D1 L2). Houston had recorded just four victories in their previous 21 games (D3 L14) from mid-April through late August.
– The Galaxy clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2019 with a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Los Angeles reached the postseason on the back of a run of just one loss in their past 10 matches (W4 D5), which followed a spell of six losses in eight games.
– Ferreira scored his team-leading 11th and 12th goals of the season in Houston’s 2-1 win over Nashville. Only one Paraguayan has ever scored more goals in a single MLS season than Ferreira’s 12 this year: Hector Villalba (13) for Atlanta United in 2017.
– The Galaxy equaled a pair of penalty records on Saturday against Real Salt Lake, winning two in a match for the third time this season, equaling the most in a single season in league history (Atlanta in 2018 and Portland in 2016). LA missed one of those two, their fifth missed penalty of the season, equaling the Fire and Mutiny in 2000 for the most missed spot kicks in a single regular season.