Galaxy hits the road with a home playoff game in play

The playoff berth is secured and now the Galaxy heads into Sunday’s regular-season finale aiming for a better seed and a playoff home game.

The Galaxy enters the final week in fourth place in the Western Conference and would host a home game. A win against the Houston Dynamo (2 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet) would guarantee the first playoff home game for the Galaxy since the 2016 Western Conference semifinals.

A Galaxy win and a loss by FC Dallas, which is playing Sporting Kansas City, would see the Galaxy (13-12-8, 47 points) move up to third. There’s also the possibility the Galaxy could end up seventh.

“We would love to give our fans another game,” Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said. “Also, momentum is precious in MLS and so we’ve been on a good stretch over this last set of games and we want to play well. We want to perform. We want to get a good result. 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 is a playoff game and be in the right mindset. You don’t get time to have a lull and try to get yourself back when we only have one game in front of us between now and the playoffs.”

In 13th place out of 14 in the West, Houston (10-17-6, 36 points) has defeated LAFC and Nashville by scores of 2-1 in recent weeks, plus trips to Houston haven’t always been kind to the Galaxy. Houston has an 8-6-4 edge against the Galaxy at home.

“They’ve been playing like a team who has not a whole lot to lose, but can go out and really try to push themselves against the opposition and go for the game,” Vanney said. “For me, one of their best qualities is in transition, so when you can get on top of games and get teams spread out, you can find more transition moments and they’ve looked solid.

“It will be a good game for us because I don’t think they will be a team that comes out and just sit back.”

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Earlier this season, Houston punished the Galaxy on transition for a 3-0 win. However, that Galaxy isn’t this Galaxy. With the arrival of Riqui Puig, Gaston Brugman and Martin Caceres, performances have improved and the Galaxy have a look of a team that could be dangerous once the playoffs begin.

“It’s time to get down to work,” Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado said. “We have an opportunity to lift the trophy, but there is a still a lot of work to do and hopefully everyone has the same mentality.”

Playoff schedule

The first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs are scheduled to be played Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Start times and dates should be finalized by Sunday evening.