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MLS PLAYOFFS: Are the Galaxy favorites?

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.

The Galaxy is the best team in Major League Soccer. So they should win MLS Cup, right?

Oh, if it were only so easy.

MLS's postseason begins Wednesday night with the first of two wild-card games, and L.A. opens its playoff campaign Sunday at Colorado, Columbus or New York -- whichever is the lowest-seeded winner in wild-card play.

Now, the Galaxy is clearly the favorite -- it has enjoyed one of the most remarkable seasons in MLS history, winning 19 games, losing just five (and two of those were more or less conceded) and compiling 67 points, the second-highest total in league history. But the playoffs are a different competition, and it has more to do with who's hot. Only five of the previous 15 winners of the Supporters' Shield -- the regular-season championship -- have gone on to win MLS Cup.

There's not much room for error. You've got four games (five for the wild cards, a new wrinkle to the format), you can lose just once (the first-round series are home-and-home, total-goals battles, so a 1-0 loss can be countered with a 2-0 win), and one great performance (such as Kevin Hartman's in FC Dallas' Western Conference final victory last year over the Galaxy) can end your run.

The Galaxy have the league's best defense, a decent attack and solid depth. They're also dealing with injuries, mostly little things, but the prospect of big names Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane being far less than 100 percent isn't encouraging. Both could be back, and we expect Donovan will be, and even without them L.A. has enough to parade the trophy following the Nov. 20 final at Home Depot Center.

Will it happen? We'll know in 3½ weeks.