Losing two star players to the United States National Team’s World Cup training camp threatens to make it tough on the Galaxy to score goals, but don’t expect FC Dallas to show any sympathy.
In fact, FC Dallas’ Kevin Hartman figures to make it tougher on the Galaxy to break through offensively.
Without Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle, the Galaxy will visit FC Dallas on Thursday. Galaxy players pointed to Hartman as a key reason why FC Dallas has been improved in recent games and a reason why the club must raise its level ahead of their encounter.
“Kevin’s always been a guy who works hard,” Galaxy midfielder Clint Mathis said at training earlier this week. “He understands the game. He’s a great shot-stopper and that’s what he’s been doing well for that team. He’s kept them in the last few games where he’s made some great saves.”
Hartman, a longtime member of the Galaxy, holds league records in both wins (148) and shutouts (86). He picked up wins No. 147 and 148 within the last three games starting in the FCD goal, both shutouts of D.C. and Houston, respectively.
Against Philadelphia last Saturday, Hartman made several strong saves but allowed a late goal as the teams tied 1-1. Still, the veteran’s tenacity has caught the Galaxy’s attention.
“Kevin Hartman has definitely saved them,” LA defender Omar Gonzalez said. “He’s been saving balls that have been past him and somehow just reaches his arm back and stops balls. He’s all over the place. He’s playing very well right now.”
Hartman didn't have a great start to 2010. Kansas City made it clear early this year that, after three seasons with the Wizards, he was not in their plans. FC Dallas, already featuring Dario Sala in goal, took a shot on him.
Perhaps it was how things turned out for the veteran that has helped him return to form.
“He’s got a chip on his shoulder,” Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee said. “He’s kind of been passed over a little bit by his past team and he came in here and he wasn’t the starter and he’s hungry. He took Sala’s job I believe and he’s looked great. He’s hungry so you definitely have to make the most of your chances because he’s definitely not going to give us one.”
Still, focusing too much on Hartman and FC Dallas as a whole is not what the Galaxy intend to do once the clubs line up at Pizza Hut Park.
“If we just focus on playing defense first, our chances will come and when they do we’ve got to put it past Hartman,” Gonzalez said.
One simple way to test Hartman is to let shots rain down on the longtime ‘keeper.
“We’re just going to have to continue to put the pressure on him,” Mathis said. “I think you increase your chances by shooting more and keeping everything on target.”