FRISCO — Don’t let Robbie Keane beat you. That was the directive from Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman to his players for Saturday's match against the LA Galaxy.
They didn’t get the message. The Galaxy, despite being without David Beckham and Landon Donovan, downed FCD, 1-0, on a goal from Mike Magee that was set up by Keane.
“It didn’t look like it, but a big emphasis in today’s game was to not let Keane get free,” Hyndman said after the game. “It seems like when we had the ball our center backs completely forgot about him … he’s the last guy in the attacking third you want free. He caused us a lot of problems, I don’t know if we ever got that right.”
Keane and Magee combined to create breakaway chances throughout the first half that some last-second Dallas defending stopped, but an hour through the game, Magee broke the deadlock.
The Irish star found Magee at the top of the box with a smart ball and the winger beat goalkeeper Kevin Hartman with a curling shot to Hartman’s right.
“Typical Magee goal,” Hyndman said. “He’s a bit of a sneaky player, because you think he’s doing nothing and all of a sudden he finds a way to score.”
It was Dallas that found ways to score last week, winning 5-0 over the Portland Timbers. Equally important was getting the clean sheet. In fact, against the Timbers, the backline was instrumental not only in defense, but also in igniting the attack.
It was a different story against LA, and it had a huge impact.
“Portland kind of sat back with their strikers and didn’t press us so we were able to swing it wide really easily,” defender Matt Hedges said. “But against LA, both their strikers were pressing us so we had to try something different.”
In fact, the passing game that FC Dallas enjoyed against Portland existed on Saturday night as well. FCD outpossessed the visitors 60 percent to 40 percent, and completed 306 passes to LA’s 193.
But Dallas were unable to turn that advantage into anything meaningful. The sides split 50-50 on duels won, and when Dallas did gain possession and move into the attack, they failed to test goalkeeper Josh Saunders: Only one of FCD’s 12 shots was on target.
With the loss, Dallas are 11 points behind the Galaxy for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
“Give them a lot of credit,” Hyndman said. “They seemed to have outworked us which was disappointing. I think this is the first time this year that we’ve been outworked.”