Galaxy draw 1-1 with Sounders, eliminated from playoff race

CARSON, CALIFORNIA (AP) – Javier “Chicharito” Hernández scored in the 78th minute, but the LA Galaxy were eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference despite their 1-1 draw with the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night.

Raúl Ruidíaz scored his 11th goal of the season in the third minute of injury time for the defending MLS Cup champion Sounders, who have won just once in their last six games while falling out of first place in the Western Conference. Seattle sits third in the West but is still in contention for the top spot thanks to this last-minute draw.

The five-time MLS Cup champion Galaxy will miss the postseason for the third time in four years despite going unbeaten in the last two games under interim coach Dominic Kinnear, finally gathering some momentum too late to save their season.

“Every time there’s a coaching change, you hope for a positive response, and so far it’s been positive,” Kinnear said. “The play has been fun to watch, but also the way they’ve stuck together. It’s been tough, the way the season has gone.”

Even a victory over Seattle wouldn’t have saved the Galaxy’s hopes. Wins by the Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night eliminated LA, which needed one of those two teams to lose in order to stay in the race.

LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget heads the ball next to Seattle Sounders defender Nouhou Tolo during the first half of an MLS football match in Carson, California. PHOTO: AP

Chicharito converted his late strike off a good pass from Efraín Álvarez after a buildup with Cristian Pavón. Chicharito’s goal was just his second in his 11 games during the heralded Mexican forward’s injury-plagued first season in MLS.

“This was a bad season for me,” Hernández said. “I didn’t give them my best, but I wanted to show at least in these last games that that’s what I can give, because they deserve better. I deserve better. Everyone deserves better in this club.” Ruidíaz stole a point with the equaliser when Jordan Morris navigated among four Galaxy defenders and slipped a pass to Ruidíaz, whose shot went off Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham and in.

“We felt like we had it,” Galaxy defender Daniel Steres said. “I think there’s a lot of things we could have done just to kill that game off, that last play specifically. The only saving grace is that Colorado and San Jose won tonight, so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.”

The Galaxy have looked better under Kinnear since Guillermo Barros Schelotto was fired, but it was too late to save a turbulent season that began with high hopes and the addition of Hernández as MLS’ highest-paid player.

The Galaxy were inconsistent until the losing streak that led to Barros Schelotto’s firing, with top players including Chicharito and Jonathan Dos Santos struggling through injuries in front of a leaky defence.

The Sounders put just three of their 17 shots on target against the Galaxy.

Ethan Dobbelaere, the Sounders’ 17-year-old homegrown midfielder, made his first start for Seattle and played into the 54th minute.