CARSON, Calif. – The popular line of thinking regarding Sunday’s game between the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas would make it appear it is nothing but an early-season matchup between two long-time Western Conference rivals.
But a closer look at the game (4 p.m., FOX Sports West/Galavision) reveals something more meaningful. This will mark the first meeting between the teams since last November’s Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center. FC Dallas, led by reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira, who will miss Sunday’s game with a broken ankle, scored an impressive 3-0 victory, upsetting the Galaxy and advancing to MLS Cup for the first time in club history, where they lost to the Colorado Rapids in extra time.
The Galaxy, owners of the league’s best record a year ago, were left to spend an offseason stewing about that result. Sunday is the first chance they get to make amends for that disappointing outcome, but players won’t go so far as to say revenge is on their minds.
There might be a little bit, however.
“Of course,” defender Sean Franklin said after training Wednesday. “They beat us on our home field and knocked us out of our chance to go to MLS Cup. But it’s a new season and we’re looking forward to building off our victory from last weekend.
“Stick to that game plan and go in with a tough mentality that we’re going to make it hard for Dallas to beat us.”
Franklin said it took him almost a week to put last year’s conference final behind him.
“Once the season was over, the MLS Cup was over,” he said, “it was like, ‘OK, now I can look forward to next year and start off on a good note.’ And so far this year I think we’ve done that.”
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who made a season-high six saves and turned in his third clean sheet in five outings this season in last Saturday’s 3-0 victory over the Portland Timbers, also played down the revenge factor. But he did admit last year’s loss to Dallas still lingers to a certain extent.
“There’s still a bit of a bad taste in our mouths from last season,” he said. “They came here and embarrassed us on our home field. This won’t set things straight, but it will be a good three points to get.
“We wouldn’t gain a thing if we think that way,” Ricketts added when asked about getting revenge for last year’s result. “That was last season and that’s gone. This is a new season, new goals, new focus. We are playing some pretty good football, and we have to keep that going.”
The Galaxy’s Mike Magee prefers to think of the long-term ramifications of this weekend’s match instead of reliving some rather painful memories.
“I think ourselves, Dallas and maybe a couple of other teams have separated from the rest of the teams over the last couple of years, and we’re always separated by a couple of points,” he said. “Who gets first place to fourth place, you’re going to look back at a game like this. If Dallas beats us by two points, you look back at this game as a big one.
“These points can come back to haunt you.”
Much like last year’s Conference Championship.
“To not play your best is extremely disappointing,” he said. “It definitely is a game you’re going to look back in your career and say you were right there to win MLS Cup and you blew it.”
The wounds of that defeat still exist nearly six months later, and while a win on Sunday will not heal them entirely, it could go a long way toward helping LA return to the Western Conference Championship this year. And hopefully one step further.