MLS Playoffs: Teams limp into Knockout Round

Between them, the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake have made 11 MLS Cup appearances and won six league titles. In 15 combined seasons, Toronto FC and the Philadelphia Union have never won a playoff game. What the teams in Wednesday's opening MLS playoff games have in common is poor form recently: just two wins in 20 games.

Knockout Round:
Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia
, 7:30 pm ET, ESPN2, UniMas
LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 pm ET, UniMas
D.C. United vs. Montreal
, 7:30 pm ET, UniMas
Seattle vs. Sporting KC, 10 pm ET, FS1, UniMas
Byes: NY Red Bulls, New York City, FC Dallas, Colorado.

TORONTO FC-PHILADELPHIA. In its 10th season in MLS, Toronto FC finally gets a home playoff game. After exiting quietly at Montreal last year in its first playoff game, TFC will look to extend its season at BMO Field on Wednesday. It has a good chance as Philadelphia enters the playoffs with the lowest point total in a decade and winless since August.

Neither team enters the playoffs in good form defensively -- Philadelphia has conceded seven goals, Toronto six in their last three games -- but the Union has been particularly bad.

“It is inexcusable at the professional level to give up breakaways from midfield, especially in back-to-back weeks,” Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin said. “That is something that can’t happen, and it’s happened too much in recent weeks."

The Union is making only its second playoff appearance and first since 2011 when it lost both games to Houston. Still, the pressure will all be on big-spending Toronto FC.

“They’re the home team," said Curtin. "They’re looking for success this year. They want to make a deep playoff run."

Trend lines:
Toronto FC Last 5: TLLWT
Philadelphia Last 5: LTLLL.

2016 Meetings:
August 20

Philadelphia 1 Toronto FC 3.
TOR: Sebastian Giovinco (Marky Delgado) 18
PHI: Ken Tribbett (Tranquillo Barnetta) 24
TOR: Drew Moor (Michael Bradley) 30
TOR: Jozy Altidore (Will Johnson) 44
September 24
Toronto FC 1 Philadelphia 1.
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya (Fabian Herbers) 25
TOR: Justin Morrow (Jonathan Osorio) 70

Probable Lineups:
Toronto FC -- Irwin; Beitashour, Moor, Hagglund, Morrow; Bradley, Chapman, Osorio, Lovitz; Altidore, Giovinco.
Philadelphia -- Blake; Rosenberry, Marquez, Tribbett, Fabinho; Carroll, Bedoya; Herbers, Barnetta, Pontius; Sapong.

LA GALAXY-REAL SALT LAKE. The Galaxy and RSL produced 13 goals between them in their two regular-season meetings, but don't expect a ton of goals Wednesday night at StubHub Center. They have scored three goals between them in October (six games).

Injuries and poor form have been a problem for both teams.  Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Gyasi Zardes were all back at training but only Keane might play on Wednesday. RSL center forward Yura Movsisyan has been bothered by a heel problem and veteran right back Tony Beltran is questionable.

After scoring five goals in three games to begin September, Giovani dos Santos has not scored since then for the Galaxy. Since scoring twice and setting up the third RSL goal in a 3-1 win over Chicago on Aug. 6, Javier Morales hasn't had a point -- a span of nine games.

Both teams know the key is just to be in the playoffs.

“I think we’ve kept our heads above water," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "I think we’ve been somewhat consistent in the fact that we’ve been a team that’s been in a position to win MLS Cup almost each and every year so that’s OK."

Trend lines:
LA Galaxy Last 5: TTLTW.
Real Salt Lake Last 5: LTLTL.

2016 Meetings:
April 23
LA Galaxy 5 Real Salt Lake 2.
RSL: Juan Manuel Martinez (Assisted by Luke Mulholland) 16
LA: Gyasi Zardes (Assisted by Baggio Husidic) 19
LA: Mike Magee (Assisted by Emmanuel Boateng) 26
LA: Emmanuel Boateng (Assisted by Gyasi Zardes, Giovani dos Santos) 41
LA: Giovani dos Santos (Assisted by Emmanuel Boateng, Mike Magee) 45
RSL: Javier Morales pen. 70
LA: Steven Gerrard 90+1
September 7
Real Salt Lake 3 LA Galaxy 3.
LA: Emmanuel Boateng (Giovani dos Santos) 7
RSL: Joao Plata pen. 53
LA: Giovani dos Santos (Baggio Husidic) 58
LA: Giovani dos Santos 64
RSL: Joao Plata (Yura Movsisyan, Tony Beltran) 67
RSL: Juan Manuel Martinez (Joao Plata) 90+4

Probable Lineups:
LA Galaxy -- Rowe; Rogers, DeLaGarza, Van Damme, Cole; Husidic, Larentowicz; Donovan, dos Santos, Lletget; Gordon.
Real Salt Lake -- Rimando; Wingert, Glad, Olave, Wingert; Sunny, Beckerman, Martinez, Morales, Plata; Movsisyan.
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