MLS PLAYOFFS: Who is L.A.'s wild card?

October, 27, 2011
10/27/11
10:45
PM PT

GalaxyAP Photo/Bret HartmanJuninho could be key to the Galaxy's postseason success with his play in the midfield.

With the Galaxy in the MLS playoffs, we'll try to answer some of the pertinent questions for the "every fan" as the postseason moves on.

Everybody knows (or should know) David Beckham and Landon Donovan -- and perhaps Robbie Keane, too. They're the Galaxy's Designated Players, which means they make big bucks (seven figures) that only count so much (and not that much) against the salary cap.

If the Galaxy is going to win their first MLS Cup title since 2005, they're going to need something special from these guys, health permitting. (Donovan is coming back from a quadriceps injury, and Keane is dealing with what the club has terms an “adductor strain,” although he called it a torn thigh muscle to the Irish press.)

Who else on the Galaxy roster is liable to take on a hero's cloak and lead the club to a title?

We're going to go with 22-year-old Brazilian Vitor Gomes Pereira Junior, better known as Juninho, a second-year MLS player on loan from Brazilian giant Sao Paulo who teams with Beckham in central midfield -- and has shown a knack for scoring big, amazing goals.

He's netted six this season, five of them from long distance, including a stunning blast that beat Honduran club Motagua in a must-win game a week ago, sending the Galaxy through to the knockout stage in the CONCACAF Champions League, the region's club championship.

He scored a stoppage-time winner in L.A.'s other big have-to-win game so far this season, a Champions League triumph last month over Mexico's Morelia.

Juninho showed sparks of real ability last season, but he's grown into one of the league best and most underrated midfielders in 2011, and it would be a fitting end should he provide the fireworks at the finish.

Previous questions

Are the Galaxy favorites?

If not the Galaxy, then who?

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