Match Preview: FC Dallas at LA Galaxy

Galaxy, FCD clash in hot match for MLS Cup berth

LAPreview

Photo Credit: 
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Basics

Los Angeles Galaxy (No. 1 seed in Western Conference) vs. FC Dallas (No. 3 seed in West) in the Western Conference Championship at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

LA Galaxy lead the all-time series 25-18-9

TV Info

8 p.m. CT; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

Game Intro

Just three weeks ago, LA hosted Dallas in the season finale with the Supporters’ Shield on the line.

Atiba Harris gave the visitors an early lead, but the Galaxy bounced back and leveled terms later in the half. In the second 45, Juninho struck early and LA held on to the result to win the Shield.

Now, the Galaxy look to book their league-record seventh trip to MLS Cup while FCD are hoping to reach the final for the first time.

WATCH: Bobby Rhine previews the Western Conference Championship

Los Angeles Galaxy

The Galaxy stumbled into the previous meeting against FCD having lost to Colorado 3-1 just one week prior. But they aren’t stumbling into anything anymore.

The club has rediscovered its early-season form and was rock-solid against Seattle in the first round. In the second leg of the series, David Beckham shone the brightest, setting up two goals from set pieces. LA then displayed a standout defensive effort, one they'll need to repeat against Dallas to shut down Dallas' several potent weapons.

The Galaxy’s starting lineup will likely remain unchanged, save for the possible inclusion of Todd Dunivant in place for Eddie Lewis at left back. But on their home turf, LA feel this is their game to lose.

"We’ve been on the road and have done well and won games," Beckham said. "Being at home obviously gives us the advantage of having our home fans on our backs with us. We’re in a good position, but we need to work hard.”

FC Dallas

Call it a road to redemption. FCD lost twice in the final two weeks of the season – as many times as they’d lost the first 28 weeks. One of those defeats was a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake, which Dallas quickly avenged by beating the defending MLS Cup champions by an aggregate score of 3-2 in the first round of the playoffs.

Now, FC Dallas look to pay the Galaxy back as well. While the game was played only three weeks ago, FCD will have a different look. Kevin Hartman, Daniel Hernandez, Ugo Ihemelu and Brek Shea could all start – none were on the field at the start of the game on Oct. 24.

Back from suspension will be right winger Atiba Harris, who missed the last game after receiving a red card in the first leg of the playoffs.

“It’s been tough,” left back Jair Benitez said of the team’s struggles vs. LA. “We haven’t been able to beat them this year but we’re going with a different mentality now. This is to go to the championship.”

Heroes & Villains

Donovan Ricketts vs. Kevin Hartman: Ricketts won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year after compiling 11 shutouts in his second season in MLS, beating out surprise runner-up Hartman, who was out of a job in the preseason and responded with a fine campaign.

In the postseason, both ‘keepers have shown why they were up for the award. Each has been active and has made tremendous saves to keep opponents from scoring. One mistake from either ‘keeper in this match could prove fatal.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm…”

FC Dallas have as many MLS Cup ’05 champions on their roster as the Galaxy do: Ihemelu and Hartman of FC Dallas, as well as Landon Donovan and Dunivant on the Galaxy, helped LA win the MLS title five years ago.