FC Dallas opens the final month of the 2016 Regular Season as the LA Galaxy make their lone trip of the season to Toyota Stadium on Saturday night. Dallas (15-8-8) returns home after a trio of draws in the last three weeks – two on the road in league play and one at home in CCL action on Wednesday night. LA (11-5-15) will look to rebound from a loss at home to the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, 4-2. The two sides have not met in MLS play this season, but played a memorable Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal match in August, which Dallas took 2-1 in extra time.
Saturday opens up a home-and-home series with the Galaxy over the last three games of the season with the top spot in the West and the Supporters’ Shield on the line. Dallas holds a 5-point lead on LA and the rest of the top league contenders, and a pair of positive results could lock up the second trophy of 2016 for FCD. Similarly, a pair of wins for LA could vault them to the top of the conference (dependent on what the Rapids do over their last 5 games) and in prime position for the Shield.
KEY PLAYER FOR LA
Giovani dos Santos – The recent re-addition to the Mexican National Team has been a bright spot in an injury-plagued season for the Galaxy. With 14 goals and 12 assists in 26 games, dos Santos leads his team in both categories and is the biggest threat heading down the stretch if his confidence stays high. He has 5 goals and 4 assists in his last four starts.
Mauro Diaz vs. Jeff Larentowicz – The Magician’s foot was the catalyst for Dallas’ 2 goals late in the Open Cup comeback, both off of corner kicks in the final 5 minutes. If Larentowicz and the Galaxy want to shut down the FCD attack, it all starts with Diaz in the middle.
Carlos Gruezo vs. Giovani dos Santos – Similar to how the Dallas offense runs through Diaz, the Galaxy attack would take a big hit if Gruezo is able to contain the small No. 10 for LA. He’s scoring and setting up almost everything for his side, contributing to 12 of the last 14 goals.
PROJECTED LINEUP (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Brian Rowe; Defenders: Ashley Cole, Jelle Van Damme, Daniel Steres, Robbie Rogers; Midfielders: Jeff Larentowicz, Sebastian Lletget; Emmanuel Boeteng, Giovanni dos Santos, Bagio Husidic; Forward: Robbie Keane.
KEYS TO THREE POINTS
Dallas knows this set of games could make or break their Supporters’ Shield hopes and it all starts with a strong first leg at home. If Chris Seitz and the back line can keep their stellar second half from RSL to secure a point, while the attack is able to find the cracks in the Galaxy defense like in Open Cup action, FCD can secure a Top 2 seed and Knockout Round bye in the quickly approaching postseason.