Know Your Enemy: LA Galaxy

The road to the MLS Cup Playoffs continues for FC Dallas this weekend as they head back to California for a big match with the LA Galaxy.

The Galaxy come into Saturday’s match at the StubHub Center unbeaten in their last seven. Last week the Galaxy had two matches on the road that saw them struggle to get points however, as they drew Montreal and then California rivals San Jose.

LA did get the better end of the previous meeting with FC Dallas earlier this year in May as they won that match 2-1. Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes scored for the Galaxy while Tesho Akindele scored his first career goal.

The Galaxy are undefeated in Carson over the last five meetings vs. FC Dallas in league play, dating back to the start of the 2010 season, going 4-0-1 in that time. FCD only has five wins all-time in LA against the Galaxy.

Injury Watch

Going into Saturday’s game, Bruce Arena’s squad is fairly healthy with only one long-term injury to report. Defender Todd Dunivant is dealing with a left groin tear.

Key Matchups

Fabian Castillo vs Dan Gargan – While Fabian Castillo hasn’t had the same success in the last couple weeks that he had during July and August, the young Colombian is always the club’s best threat to get in behind a defense. Gargan doesn’t have the speed to handle Castillo either, so this could be a good point of emphasis for the Dallas attack.

Zach Loyd vs Gyasi Zardes - Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan will get a lot of the Dallas attention in the back but Zardes is a guy that has been sneaky-good as of late. He typically finds himself in the right spots in the penalty box to score off a rebound or be where Donovan or Keane can find him. Loyd will need to keep a close watch on the Homegrown star.

Key Player for the Galaxy

Landon Donovan - The MLS all-time goal scoring king is nearing another big record in league history, the all-time assist lead. Donovan needs three assists to pass Steve Ralston (135) at the top of the list. Donovan has been vital to the Galaxy’s recent form, scoring five goals and adding in eight assists in the last seven games.

Projected Lineup

Arena has stuck with his 4-4-2 formation again this season, with the occasional look of a diamond midfield.

Goalkeeper: Jaime Penedo; RB: Dan Gargan; CB: Tommy Meyer, Omar Gonzalez; LB: Robbie Rogers; RM: Stefan Ishizaki; CM: Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas; LM: Landon Donovan; FW: Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes

Keys to three points

The Galaxy are still in contention for the Supporters’ Shield trophy. They know how important points at home are, especially this time of the season.

FC Dallas has struggled in LA over the years so this one may not exactly be about going all out for three points, but more so for just getting points period. Draws on the road aren’t the worst thing in environments like LA’s either.

LA showed in the last couple weeks how they can be beaten though. San Jose kept the game physical and frustrated the Galaxy with getting set pieces and plenty of shots on goal. Montreal was able to show how to beat them on the counter at times. FC Dallas can use these templates to their advantage given the speed options up front with Fabian Castillo, Andres Escobar and Tesho Akindele.

On the defensive side of the ball, FC Dallas will need to have a complete team effort when defending the Galaxy. LA is a team that does well with counter attacks and loves to catch teams napping in midfield. Between the back four in the defense, Michel and Victor Ulloa, FCD cannot afford to give up cheap turnovers in the middle of the field.