FRISCO, Texas — For three FC Dallas starters, the Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center (Sunday, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, ESPN2/Deportes) will be a sort of return to their roots. That’s because this talented trio all started their respective careers with their opponents, the LA Galaxy.
FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman was with LA from 1997 through 2006 and was between the posts for MLS Cup-winning teams in both 2002 and 2005. He started 20 games for his new club this year with a goals-against-average of just 0.62 and was a finalist for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
Holding mid Daniel Hernandez also started his career in LA and was a teammate of Hartman’s there in both 1998 and 1999. The Dallas captain started 24 games in 2010.
And veteran center back Ugo Ihemelu was with the Galaxy in 2005 and 2006, playing on the ’05 championship team before going to the Colorado Rapids. He played in 19 games in 2010 and scored one goal.
“It’s one of those things; you always think about the former team,” Hartman said. “I had some great times there, but this is a huge game for FC Dallas. My current team and I are going to go in there and do our best to win. I think that everything else is going to be secondary.”
FCD are making their first appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2007, though the Dallas club has never been to the Cup final.
“I did play in MLS Cup against the Galaxy [in 2005], but it’s definitely going to be one of the most important games of my career and one of the most meaningful to me being here in Dallas now,” Hernandez said. “ [Returning to LA] doesn’t really register or go through my mind too much. I’m the type of guy to live in the moment. I’m here and those things don’t really cross my mind too much. I’m more concentrated on the game itself, the importance of the game, what it means to me, this team and this club.”
FCD lost their last game of the season on October 24 at The Home Depot Center. But unlike his teammates, Ihemelu will have LA very much on his mind.
“I think as long as I’m playing in MLS, I’ll always enjoy going back there because it was where my career started,” the FCD center back said. “I have a lot of great memories from there and even when I go back now, I still get a positive response from the LA fans. That’s just a little extra motivation for me to go back there and help us get a result.”
The Galaxy face FC Dallas in the Western Conference Championship on Sunday, November 14 at 6 p.m. at The Home Depot Center. Tickets are available as low as $20! BUY TICKETS