CARSON, Calif. – Galaxy coaches and players sounded not only disappointed but sympathetic after hearing FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira was lost to a broken right ankle in Dallas’ 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday.
They also might have breathed a quiet sigh of relief as they prepared for Sunday’s Western Conference showdown at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas (4 p.m., FOX Sports West/Galavision/AM 1150/1330 AM), knowing they won’t have to face the reigning MLS Most Valuable Player.
All they have to do while silently counting their blessings is think back to last year’s Western Conference Championship, in which Ferreira almost single-handedly terrorized the Galaxy with a goal and an assist in a 3-0 victory at The Home Depot Center that vaulted FC Dallas into the MLS Cup final where they lost to the Colorado Rapids.
“He’s a special player in this league,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said, “as evidenced by the MVP award last year and Dallas’ progression to the Cup final."
“He’s a terrific player and we want all good players on the field as much as possible.”
Ferreira’s injury was one of several that recently have sidelined some of the league’s top performers. The Galaxy, for example, lost central defender Leonardo to torn knee ligaments and Seattle will be without Steve Zakuani, who suffered two broken bones in his leg.
Galaxy coaches and players said despite Ferreira’s absence, their preparations for this weekend’s game surprisingly won’t change that much. When Ferreira was injured, Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndeman replaced him with Eric Avila, a player of similar stature who scored the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute to give Dallas the full three points.
“They have a very good team and a number of options at the attacking end of the field,” Arena said.
However, they clearly will miss competing against one of the most dangerous attacking players in MLS.
“It just sucks for their team,” central defender Omar Gonzalez said. “He was the MVP last year and he carried them a long way. For them to lose a high-caliber player just sucks, like it did for us when we lost Leo.
“There have been a lot of injuries around the league, and it’s sad to see it happen.”
Gonzalez said the diminutive Ferreira, who stands 5-5 and weighs 145 pounds, is surprisingly strong for his size and demands constant attention.
“If he was on the field then we would have to keep an eye on him the whole game,” Gonzalez said. “But I’m sure they’ll put someone else in there who will have an effect like he did, or at least try to.
“Either way Bruce is going to show us film and we’re just going to focus on our game.”
Fellow Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza, who has stepped into a starting role in the center of defense with Leonardo sidelined for the rest of the season, said the Galaxy now can focus on “the whole field” instead of keeping constant vigil of Ferreira’s whereabouts.
“Last year, we might have put a little bit of emphasis on him alone,” DeLaGarza said. “We know he’s a different player. Now, we can just do what we have to do and not have to worry about him.
“Obviously, I’d much rather play against him than have him out. It’s just unfortunate. He was MVP for a reason.”