By Gary Montgomery, BVN Sports –
By virtue of their 2011 regular season performance, the Los Angeles Galaxy has once again established themselves as the club to beat. By amassing 67 points this year, the best in MLS, the Galaxy is now poised for soccer’s second season.
MLS has decided to expand their playoff format from eight to ten teams this year. The Western Conference includes the top seeded L.A. Galaxy followed by Seattle and Real Salt Lake.
The Eastern Conference is led by Sporting KC, Houston and Philadelphia. In addition, wild card qualifiers include, FC Dallas, Colorado, Columbus and New York.
The playoff format has the Galaxy in a first round bye, while the wild card clubs face each other in a single game elimination. The Galaxy will play their first playoff game on the road, October 30th. The home and home format will then move to the Home Depot Center on November 3rd at 5 pm for the Western Conference Semifinal.
As in recent years, the winner of the two game series will be determined by the aggregate score. Winning teams will earn three points, one point for a tie and zero for a loss. To the advantage of the Galaxy, the first criteria for a tie-breaker is the regular season record and Los Angeles has the league best at 67 points.
In a year when the Galaxy has also competed in CONCACAF Tournament, top Galaxy players have been pulled for national team duty, the club added top Irish striker Robbie Keane. He suffered an injury while playing for Ireland in an international match and has been on the mend.
Landon Donovan (Redlands East Valley H.S.) has also been out with a strained quadriceps.
Donovan is likely, Sean Franklin returned to action last week, but Robble Keane may not be ready for the Western Conference Semifinal. Donovan Ricketts, last years Goalkeeper of the Year, who had a league leading 11 shutouts is now available.
David Beckham, who finished a close second in league assists with 11 in 27 games, appears to be healthy and energized.
Negotiations are ongoing to keep him in Los Angeles.
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