CARSON, Calif. – Sunday’s regular season finale between the Galaxy and FC Dallas would be one of the marquee games in MLS no matter when it was played. Featuring two of the top three teams in the league this season, the two teams will be looking to shore up their postseason seeds while also re-gaining some momentum that was lost by each club with a loss last weekend.
But most importantly to the Galaxy, there is the little matter of the trying to clinch the Supporters’ Shield, which would reward them with home field advantage throughout the upcoming MLS Cup Playoffs. The Galaxy had a chance to wrap it up last Saturday, but were beaten by the Colorado Rapids 3-1. Now they face a Dallas team that saw their own Supporters’ Shield crushed with a loss on the road to Real Salt Lake.
Despite that loss, Schellas Hyndman’s FC Dallas could still set a new club record for points in a season and are a team that have only lost three times on the season, compiling a 12-3-14 record for 50 points, the third most in MLS this season
The Galaxy (17-7-5, 56 points) are one of the fortunate few with an edge on the visitors. It was Magee’s 17th-minute goal at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas on May 20 that was the difference in a hard-earned 1-0 victory. The Galaxy triumphed that day despite the absences of Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan, who were the U.S. National Team preparing for the World Cup in South Africa, and David Beckham, who still was recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon.
“I think we played kind of the way we’ve played since I got here,” Magee said. “We played hard with a lot of heart. We were really competitive and I think we out-competed them.
“If we get back to that I think we’ll have a similar result.”
“Going into that game, that was a game we really looked at as we needed everyone working together,” midfielder Chris Klein recalled. “We played as a team that day. We didn’t play great, but we were effective.
“And we went down to a tough place to play and got a result.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, asked about that game, said he didn’t remember it much, if at all.
“To be honest,” he said, “I don’t even recall the day. It’s immaterial; that was a while ago. I don’t even know when we played, in April or May. It’s immaterial today, it’s just about how you perform on Sunday.
“We have to play better than them for 90 minutes.”
Such an effort would give the Galaxy the long-sought Supporters’ Shield. A Real Salt Lake loss at Colorado on Saturday would assure them second place in the West. If Real Salt Lake ties Colorado, the Galaxy would need at least a draw against Dallas to wrap it up.
Arena called FC Dallas “solid in every position on the field.”
“They’ve shared the goal-scoring load among a number of people,” he said, referring to the likes of Jeff Cunningham (11 goals), David Ferreira (8 goals and 13 assists) and Brek Shea and Milton Rodriguez (5 goals each). They have a lot of depth to their midfield, they have a very good back line and (goalkeeper Kevin) Hartman has had an outstanding season.
“They have a good team, no question about that. They’re going to be a very tough team to beat.”
It could be even stronger with the presence of Hartman, who returned to training on Monday after missing the last five games with a sprained ligament in his right knee, a result of an incident with New York’s Thierry Henry on Sept. 18.
Magee agreed the Galaxy will need the same mentality it displayed in the earlier victory over their conference rival.
“One hundred percent,” he said. “I think mentality is everything. We have a lot to play for. We thought that Colorado was going to kind of sit back and give us the Supporters’ Shield, but at this point in the season no team is going to do that.
“Dallas won’t be any different.”