The USL Cup playoffs are here, and no surprise, LA Galaxy II are here for the third straight year. In 2016, ahead of their first game, on Friday against playoff debutants Swope Park Rangers in Kansas City, the question of whether Los Dos are capable of making another run to the USL Cup final dominates the narrative. In 2015, they fell just short of winning the league, falling in added extra time to the Rochester Rhinos.
With Swope Park Rangers only coming into existence this year, the prior history between the teams is short, with SPR beating LA 2-1 in Kansas City in the only regular season match between the teams to date, in August.
But Galaxy II have won at least one playoff game in their first two seasons, and even with a young squad, have plenty of experience in the competitive fires of the USL playoffs. The trailblazing MLS2 side in USL has likely been used as a model of sorts for Swope Park Rangers (Sporting Kansas City’s USL side), and an MLS2 vs. MLS2 playoff game should be fascinating on a number of levels.
Despite LA’s track record, the fact that they have a very long road trip to their playoff game gives their chances of winning a bit of a hit, as does the motivation factor for SPR, in that their head coach Marc Dos Santos, is leaving for another coaching job upon the end of Rangers’ season. One figures Swope Park want to give him the best possible send-off, and that could help the motivation level for the postseason newbies.
Still, this is a No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed matchup, and on paper that makes it the toughest to call. The winner of this game will face the winner of the Sacramento Republic-OC Blues game, so if LA advance, their next game is guaranteed to be back in California, and they beat each of their in-state rivals in last year’s playoff run. But first things first: Friday’s opener against Swope Park Rangers, and then we’ll see if LA is poised for another deep postseason run in 2016.
You can watch LA Galaxy II’s first-round USL playoffs game against Swope Park Rangers on Friday evening on USL’s YouTube channel and LAGalaxy.com. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 pm PT.