FC Dallas is back on the road this week for the first of two games in Week 12 as the Hoops travel to California to visit the LA Galaxy on Wednesday evening.
LA is coming off a 1-0 loss this past weekend against the Houston Dynamo. Bruce Arena’s club is surprisingly sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference with a 2-3-3 record after nine games.
Last year the two clubs split the season series with each team winning a match before ending the series with a wild 3-3 draw.
The Galaxy are undefeated in Carson over the last four meetings vs. FC Dallas in league play, dating back to the start of the 2010 season, going 3-0-1 in that time, though Dallas did upset the Galaxy 3-0 at StubHub Center in the 2010 Western Conference Finals. FCD only has five wins all-time in LA against the Galaxy.
Just like any club in MLS, LA has a few injuries to be concerned with going into this midweek matchup. Defender James Riley is the only player listed as out for this game.
The Galaxy do have question marks surrounding midfielder Marcelo Sarvas (knee), defender Leonardo (middle finger fracture) and veteran defender Todd Dunivant (abdominal strain).
LA is one of the few clubs in MLS that will be hit fairly hard by the World Cup next month in Brazil. Two of the three LA Designated Players were called up as Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez received the call from United States national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
Fabian Castillo vs Dan Gargan – Defending speed has always been an issue for the Galaxy over the years. This year is no different as Arena has had to shuffle in a few different defenders in the back due to injuries and off-season losses. Gargan has done well in recent weeks, but he has yet to face a speedster like Castillo, who is coming off his first goal in nearly two months.
Blas Perez vs Tommy Meyer - Meyer is another young player in the Galaxy defense that has had to step up this season. Against Houston last weekend he struggled to contain the Dynamo’s striker. Perez is currently on a bit of a cold streak but could find his footing in a game like this.
Key Player for the Galaxy
Robbie Keane - The Irishman will be the lone DP left of the Galaxy with Donovan and Gonzalez dealing with their national team duty. Keane is still arguably one of the best players in the league with how he creates space for himself and how he finishes the ball. He currently leads the Galaxy with five goals this season.
Arena has stuck with his 4-4-2 formation again this season, with the occasional look of a diamond midfield.
Goalkeeper: Jamie Penedo; RB: Dan Gargan; CB: Tommy Meyer, Kofi Opare ; LB: AJ DeLeGarza; RM: Stefan Ishizaki; CM: Juninho; LM: Gyasi Zardez; AM Robbie Keane; FW: Samuel, Rob Friend
Keys to three points
Lineup shuffles will again be key for both teams going into a midweek match like this. Thankfully both teams will be on the same rest for this game and nearly the same travel schedule given how the Galaxy played in Houston on Saturday.
Oscar Pareja will once again have to figure out his lineup with injuries to Michel, who isn’t traveling to LA. Service will have to come from someone who steps up in the midfield like a Danny Garcia or even Blas Perez.
Set pieces will likely shift to Jair Benitez, who stepped up well last Saturday against Chivas USA. The quality of his service will be key on the dead ball situations as LA has struggled to defense on corners and free kicks in 2014.
LA is a team that has struggled this season to find their way. Injuries and international call-ups also haven’t helped matters out for Bruce Arena and in a way this is a great time to face them if you are FC Dallas. Pareja needs to get his team to find ways to spread LA out in the midfield and create quality chances for Perez, David Texeira or Fabian Castillo.
Defensively, FCD will have to find ways to contain Keane on and off the ball. If he is allowed extra space he will be able to open up the Galaxy attack.