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.