CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are one of just three teams to have beaten FC Dallas this season.
Thus, entering Sunday’s matchup at The Home Depot Center, the Galaxy should have an extra boost of confidence. That victory came without Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle and David Beckham, so the Galaxy should have an extra jolt of confidence.
“I don’t even recall the day,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “I haven’t thought about it. It’s immaterial. That was a while ago. It's just about how you perform on Sunday and we have to play better than them for 90 minutes.”
WATCH: Last time: FCD 0, LA 1
The Galaxy’s 1-0 win at Pizza Hut Park on May 20 may seem to serve as a solid starting point in preparing for this latest encounter, but so much has changed since then, it may as well have happened last season.
FC Dallas used the loss as motivation. Coach Schellas Hyndman said the game was his team’s worst performance of the season, and his players responded, tying Chicago 1-1 the following game before reeling off a three-game winning streak. Slowly, the club pieced together an impressive unbeaten run as it reached 19 games before a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium last week.
The FC Dallas side Los Angeles faced in late May is a much different team than what will walk into The Home Depot Center on Sunday.
“They’ve had a lot of success during the season,” Arena said. “They’ve had some new players come in during the season that have helped – [Milton] Rodríguez, [Jackson Gonçalves]. They’ve gone through the season with some injuries and have done well. The credit to their team goes to the depth they’ve shown during the season.”
In May’s encounter, neither Rodríguez nor Jackson were on the roster. Rodriguez debuted on July 17 and has five goals in 13 games since. Jackson has logged eight starts in his 11 games – seven of which have been 90-minute efforts.
What makes FC Dallas dangerous is there is no one player who is carrying the load. Jeff Cunningham, their leading scorer, has started just 12 of the 26 games he’s played. In goal, the team enjoyed success with Kevin Hartman but an injury knocked him out of action. Dario Sala stepped in and went 2-0-2 in goal before last week’s setback.
“[They’re a] very good team, solid in every position on the field,” Arena said. “They’ve shared the goal-scoring load among a number of people. Ferreira has had an excellent season. They have a number of goal scorers up top, in Rodríguez and Cunningham. They have a very good midfield with a lot of depth and a very good back line. Hartman's had an outstanding season. They're a good team, no question about it.”
FC Dallas have one of the better records in the league but were never able to catch the Galaxy. That they were not able to pile up as many points as the Galaxy or Real Salt Lake may be due to their large number of draws. Of all playoff-bound clubs, FC Dallas are tied with San Jose for the fewest number of wins. But only RSL can boast double-digit draws.
“They’ve been pretty consistent,” Arena said. “Perhaps [they have] not won as many games as they’ve wanted to, but they haven’t lost too many. They’re just a very good team. I think in the playoffs they’re going to be tough to beat.”