It’s the final game of the 2016 regular season as FC Dallas heads to California for an afternoon matchup against the LA Galaxy. Dallas (17-8-8) is finishing off a week-long trek after Thursday’s 5-2 win in CCL play to advance to the tournament’s Quarterfinal Round. LA (12-6-15) returns home for their finale after a 1-0 road win last week in Houston. Dallas has taken both prior meetings this year, 2-1 in extra time of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal in California and 1-0 in Frisco earlier this month.
ONE POINT AWAY
FC Dallas needs just one point from Sunday’s match to lock up the 2016 Supporters’ Shield and the No. 1 overall seed in the postseason. The Galaxy are locked into the No. 3 seed in the West, unable to move up or be caught from the teams below, and will host a Knockout Round game to kick off the Playoffs on either Wednesday or Thursday of next week.
KEY PLAYER FOR LA
Giovani dos Santos - The second-year MLSer leads the Galaxy in both goals (14), assists (12) and shots (63) in 2016 and is one of just two players to have double-digit goal and assist numbers. Dos Santos ranks second in minutes played for his side and has been an integral part of LA’s success in an injury-plagued season.
Walker Zimmerman vs. Emmanuel Boateng - In what is expected to be a heavily-rotated Galaxy lineup on Sunday with not a lot on the line, Boateng could see considerable minutes against FCD. Zimmerman scored the lone goal in the last meeting and has proven a constant aerial threat, along with centerback counterpart Matt Hedges, all season long - an area where the Galaxy have struggled against Dallas.
Mauro Rosales vs. Jeff Larentowicz - With Mauro Diaz’s season coming to an early end, another Argentine Mauro is the biggest option to take his spot. A regular starter in recent months on the wing, Rosales could replace Diaz in the No. 10 role if Dallas sticks with the 4-2-3-1 formation, or continue his play out wide if Oscar Pareja moves to a 4-4-2. His set piece mastery helped mount FCD’s comeback in CCL play and you can bet he’ll be the go-to guy on free kicks and corners with Diaz out.
KEY TO THREE POINTS
There’s no more dangerous team in MLS playing with a chip on their shoulder than FCD. They’re eager to prove that they are the top team in the league and that losing Mauro Diaz is not the season-ending blow that some believe it is. If they can continue their form that has yielded three straight wins and an unbeaten streak of six straight games across all competitions, the Shield will call Dallas home for the next 365 days.