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The Major League Soccer hype machine didn’t have to strain itself ahead of last weekend’s L.A. Galaxy-New York City FC match. The script wrote itself, West Coast giants vs. an East Coast upstart. The big names needed no introduction: Keane, Dos Santos, Villa, Pirlo and Diskerud, with no shortage of flowing locks. Gerrard vs. Lampard — well, at least until Frank was again scratched with lingering leg injuries. I hope you kept the receipt for that commemorative T-shirt.

There was but one problem: New York City isn’t very good, a constellation of stars thrown together with little thought of balance and chemistry. And L.A. has again toggled into world-destroying mode just in time for the stretch run.

The ESPN-televised showcase was competitive for a half, but signs of the rout to come were there from the opening kickoff. The Galaxy trounced NYCFC 5-1, and that scoreline felt generous to the visitors. L.A. has returned to a familiar summit, the top of the MLS standings, and most of the relevant challengers have fallen off in recent weeks.

Robbie Keane, again establishing himself as an MVP frontrunner, scored twice and added an assist. Gyasi Zardes opened the scoring, and breakout star Sebastian Lletget netted a goal of his own midway through the second half. Dos Santos left Pirlo gesturing fruitlessly at the air, breaking away from ineffective marking for a way-too-easy finish.

The result was so sown up with so much time to spare that Keane even passed up his hat trick to play a Harlem-Globetrotters-esque give-and-go with Steven Gerrard in front of a gaping net as the minutes ticked down.

Put simply, right now the question isn’t who could beat L.A. come playoff time, but which teams could even keep the series competitive.

Dating back to mid-June, the Galaxy has scored at least five goals in seven of its last nine competitive home games — and netted four and three in the other two, both of which were also comfortable victories. Even more ominously, L.A. is only likely to get better once summer arrivals Gerrard and Dos Santos settle in.

“We’re building chemistry where we’re able to understand where everyone’s going to be,” defender Omar Gonzalez told the L.A. Times after Sunday’s game. “And everything’s coming a little bit natural.”

The league offices will hope Sunday’s match was a sign of things to come in other ways, too, a glimpse at a future where August showdowns need no introduction.

“This will eventually become a norm in this league, not only here, but in all the venues around the league,” L.A. coach Bruce Arena said. “We’ve come light years. Today was maybe a bit of recognition of the growth of the league.”

Added Keane: “This league is serious. Years ago, there were certain leagues that people wanted to go and play in. This is the league.”

– Break up the San Jose Earthquakes.

This past week could’ve carved San Jose’s tombstone, with daunting trips to Kansas City and D.C. set to heap misery on what had been a previously forgettable campaign. Instead, the ‘Quakes ended the road trip tied with Seattle for the final Western Conference playoff berth with a game in hand courtesy of two resounding wins.

The match at Sporting Park was especially stunning, a 5-0 romp over the team that had looked like the class of the league in recent weeks. Chris Wondolowski has regained his scoring touch, and new midfielder Anibal Godoy has fit right in.

Never count out a Dom Kinnear team, particularly one that plays seven of its final nine matches at home.

– Finally, some clarity in the Eastern Conference. With NYCFC’s dud in L.A. and Orlando City falling 4-0 in Toronto, the top six are finally breaking away from the pack. The two expansion clubs are tied with sixth-place Montreal on points, but the Impact have four games in hand bagged during their CONCACAF Champions League run.

As the league prepares to enter its final two months, it’s increasingly looking like everybody is just playing for seeding in the East.

– A tip of the cap to the Whitecaps. Vancouver quickly shook off its late-game collapse in Kansas City with a Kekuta-Manneh-inspired 1-0 win over Dallas on Saturday at B.C. Place. The young ‘Caps have shown poise beyond their years all season long, and they’re currently well-placed to grab one of the two byes directly into the Western Conference semifinals.

– Goal of the week: Cristian Techera, Vancouver Whitecaps. Manneh provided the run and the pass, but Techera got the finishing touch, a perfectly timed back-heel that stood up as the game’s only goal.

– Games to watch in the coming week: L.A. at San Jose (Friday at 8 p.m. PST on UniMas), Montreal at Toronto (Saturday at 1 p.m. on MLS Live), D.C. at New York Red Bulls (Sunday at 4 p.m. on Fox Sports 1).

– Updated standings, courtesy of MLSSoccer.com:

Eastern Conference

# Club PTS GP PPG W L T GF GA GD HG HGD RG RGD
1 D.C. United 44 27 1.63 13 9 5 35 31 4 27 9 8 -5
2 New York Red Bulls 39 23 1.7 11 6 6 38 25 13 19 11 19 2
3 Columbus Crew SC 38 26 1.46 10 8 8 43 43 0 32 12 11 -12
4 Toronto FC 34 24 1.42 10 10 4 42 41 1 20 9 22 -8
5 New England Revolution 34 25 1.36 9 9 7 34 36 -2 21 12 13 -14
6 Montreal Impact 28 22 1.27 8 10 4 29 32 -3 19 7 10 -10
7 New York City FC 28 26 1.08 7 12 7 37 44 -7 25 1 12 -8
8 Orlando City SC 28 26 1.08 7 12 7 32 46 -14 17 2 15 -16
9 Philadelphia Union 27 26 1.04 7 13 6 33 43 -10 18 2 15 -12
10 Chicago Fire 23 24 0.96 6 13 5 27 35 -8 16 3 11 -11

Western Conference

# Club PTS GP PPG W L T GF GA GD HG HGD RG RGD
1 LA Galaxy 46 27 1.7 13 7 7 49 32 17 36 27 13 -10
2 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 45 26 1.73 14 9 3 38 26 12 21 8 17 4
3 Sporting Kansas City 40 24 1.67 11 6 7 39 33 6 23 8 16 -2
4 Portland Timbers 40 26 1.54 11 8 7 28 30 -2 19 10 9 -12
5 FC Dallas 38 24 1.58 11 8 5 33 30 3 21 9 12 -6
6 Seattle Sounders FC 35 26 1.35 11 13 2 30 29 1 18 8 12 -7
7 San Jose Earthquakes 35 25 1.4 10 10 5 31 29 2 10 4 21 -2
8 Houston Dynamo 32 25 1.28 8 9 8 32 32 0 22 7 10 -7
9 Real Salt Lake 32 26 1.23 8 10 8 29 38 -9 19 7 10 -16
10 Colorado Rapids 27 24 1.13 6 9 9 21 25 -4 13 -4 8 0