Know Your Enemy: Los Angeles Galaxy
FC Dallas returns home this weekend to welcome an old rival into town as they try to keep their lead in the Western Conference. The two-time MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy comes to Frisco Saturday evening.
LA is unbeaten in MLS play so far with a 2-0-2 record after four games. They are coming off a series loss in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals to Monterrey. On Wednesday evening, the Galaxy played in Monterrey and lost 1-0 to the two-time CCL champions.
Bruce Arena’s club will have to bounce back quickly in this one if they want to keep their unbeaten record going.
LA is the last club to beat FC Dallas in Frisco, an unbeaten run that has now stretched to seven games since last July when LA defeated FC Dallas 1-0 at FC Dallas Stadium. The Galaxy won two of three meetings with FC Dallas in 2012, with the lone draw coming in a 1-1 result in LA.
The injury report doesn’t include too many key guys for the Galaxy. Those listed with long-term injuries are young players like Homegrown forward Gyasi Zardes and backup ‘keeper Brian Perk.
Juninho vs David Ferreira – A South American battle will take place in the midfield. The Brazilian Juninho is a force in the midfield for the Galaxy. Now that he is healthy he will be someone that will follow Ferreira around and will likely cause a few fouls on the FCD Captain as well. Who wins this battle in the midfield will likely give way to which club wins this game.
Key Player for Los Angeles
Omar Gonzalez – The Dallas native is the key cog in the defensive group for the Galaxy. As he goes, so does the Galaxy. If Dallas can force him wide more with the speed of players like Jackson or Fabian Castillo, it would help neutralize his abilities in the defensive third for the Galaxy.
Arena typically uses a traditional 4-4-2 formation that uses two box-to-box type midfielders in the center of the park.
Goalkeeper: Carlo Cudicini; RB: AJ DeLaGarza, CB: Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, LB: Todd Dunivant; RM: Sean Franklin; CM: Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho; LM: Mike Magee; FW: Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan
Keys to three points
FC Dallas got what they should have been hoping for in LA’s game at Monterrey on Wednesday. Arena played a full strength squad and guys like Donovan and Keane went the full 90 minutes. With the travel and extra minutes this week, the Galaxy could be a bit gassed for Saturday’s game.
Schellas Hyndman will want to exploit the tired legs as early as he can in this game. LA’s defense struggled dealing with speedy attackers and FC Dallas has speed to burn up front.
LA could go with a younger lineup in Frisco on Saturday. Forwards Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal have seen big minutes already this season and one or both could start. The two Homegrown stars have shown well so far this season when Donovan was out. The same could be said for veteran Mike Magee, who was the league’s top player for the month of March after leading the league in scoring.
FC Dallas will need to play the possession game but also be wise not to give up counter attacks to the Galaxy, an item that has been their bread and butter over the years.
The biggest thing for FC Dallas on Saturday may be to play a complete 90 minutes. So far this season, the final 15 minutes of the game have been iffy for the team, as they’ve given up four goals after the 75th minute in two of their last four games. LA is a team that closes games strong, so finishing strong may be the biggest key of all to this match.