Rogo: LA Needs to Pick Up the Slack

Players will have to adjust to not having both Donovan and Buddle on the field

Mathis vs. Philly 2010

Photo Credit: 
Robert Mora

Thursday
night in Frisco,
Texas,
the Galaxy will have the opportunity to continue its journey down the “unbeaten
road.”  While the pitch under their feet
might seem familiar, it will feel quite different in the lead up to the World
Cup, and potentially beyond.

LA has
played without Landon Donovan and without Edson Buddle on separate occasions,
but over the past two-plus seasons, rarely did it play without both of them in
the line-up. The Galaxy’s two possible World Cup participants have combined to
score more than 60 goals since the start of the 2008 season.

Realistically,
one, if not both of these players might miss up to 5 games.  Granted, as a U.S. National Team supporter, I
would like to see the total be six games, because that would mean playing past
July 4th.  That would translate to a deep
run in the World Cup Tournament.

So,
Thursday’s first encounter of the year with FC Dallas is an important one as it
will be our first look at the Galaxy with out two of its brightest stars until
they return.

FC Dallas
has gelled over the past 10 months under head coach Schellas Hyndman. Dating
back to the final half of the 2009 season, Dallas has put together an unbeaten run of
its own at home.  In fact the club is
8-0-4 in its last 12 MLS matches at Pizza
Hut Park.
The Galaxy drew there in 2009, and who can forget the 5-1 win behind an Edson
Buddle hat-trick during the 2008 season. 

The current
version of FCD has lost once in eight games this season, and is currently
unbeaten in the last five games.  Jeff
Cunningham is once again leading the attack, four goals and an assist in seven
starts.  David Ferreira, who seems to be
the provider, leads FCD in the assist category. 
Ferreira can get forward to lead the ball toward the final third of the
field. Daniel Hernandez, who began his MLS career with the Galaxy, sits
defensively in the midfield, allowing the 30-year-old Colombian to run free
going forward.

Defensively,
Dallas will
lose Heath Pearce as its lone contribution to Bob Bradley’s preliminary World Cup
roster.  Dallas also seems to have found a solution to
the goalkeeping errors that marred the early part of the year in the form of former
Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.  Hartman
will make his fourth straight start on Thursday for FCD. He will also be making
his seventh appearances again his former club—his first as a member of FC
Dallas.

Back to
referencing Phase II of the season, it has been a good thing that Bruce Arena
has been able to bring players like Clint Mathis, Jovan Kirovski and Chris
Klein into games lately.  All three of
these veterans, including forwards Alan Gordon and Mike Magee, will need to
“pick up the slack” over the next month. 
So far each has seen enough minutes that their legs should feel primed,
yet quite fresh.  Thursday, several of these
guys will see extended minutes for the first time of this year that believe it
or not will help too. 

Mathis
might be the big key here during this stretch. 

So far, Mathis
has shown incredible passing and vision, but many of his minutes have been
inside the final 20 minutes of a match. 
I may have said it before, but this guy was once considered one of the
most dangerous forwards with the U.S. National Team.  He can score some goals. 

I mentioned
LA’s 5-1 win back in 2008 above.  That is
actually the first time the Galaxy beat Dallas in an MLS regular
season game since 2004.  That one came
back at the Cotton Bowl.  T

The Galaxy
have not had the best of luck coming to the Lone
Star State,
but you can look outside of MLS play to the incredible 6-5 SuperLiga win at Pizza Hut
Park.  An Instant Classic for any soccer fan. 

So with a
win on Thursday night, we could take our pen to some of the streaks.  The Galaxy could extend its unbeaten run to
open the season, and the one dating back to last regular season.  LA would also end FC Dallas’ unbeaten run at
home dating back to last year, and the current 5-game unbeaten run.  What about starting a streak of wins without
“those other guys” in the line-up?  Individually,
if Josh Saunders starts, he can continue his streak of scoreless minutes in
goal? 

I could go
on and, but let just agree that another Galaxy win would be a fantastic way to start
Phase II.