July 18, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman (1) saves the penalty kick against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half at Buck Shaw Stadium. The San Jose Earthquakes defeated the FC Dallas 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
It's taken some hard work for FC Dallas (22 points, 5-10-7) to even make this sold-out match against LA Galaxy (30 points, 9-10-3) meaningful. FCD, having dropped as low as last place in the Western Conference at one point, can pull within five points of the final Western Conference playoff spot with a win while a fate of missing the playoffs can be all-but-sealed with a loss. Things are sold-out but if you don't have a seat you can probably still get a standing room only ticket and head over to the beer garden for a decent view of the action.
FCD Getting Healthy Amazingly, just two Dallas starters, Ugo Ihemelu and Blas Perez, will miss this match due to injury. George John will make the bench while Bobby Warshaw should at least be eligible for selection for the first time in months, though he may not make the bench for this one. Either way, injuries and fitness aren't really an excuse anymore and it has showed in recent results.
Missing Star(s?) We know that Landon Donovan, Dallas killer, will not be available tonight. However, David Beckham, mr. speedboat himself, could potentially make the bench tonight for LA, though that seems highly unlikely. It's obviously a huge break for Dallas, though you do worry that some unknown will come in and seize their opportunity. You do wonder how up for this game Robbie Keane is going to be playing in 100 degree temperatures without his stars around him.
Packed House As I mentioned earlier, tonight is sold out and the game is on NBC Sports Network. If you want to see kickoff, get there early as Main Street struggles to handle the big crowds. They're hoping to break the all-time FC Dallas game attendance record at the stadium tonight which is 22,331.
Defensive Resurgence As has always been the case with this team, defense has been behind the FCD resurgence. Dallas has allowed just one goal against in their last four home games combined.
Keys to the game
Keep the Mojo Flowing I don't see one reason to change a thing from last week's starting lineup. Hernandez has been playing fantastically lately while the combination of Benitez and Rodriguez was lights out dominant against the Timbers.
Frustrate Keane early Daniel Hernandez threw in a hard(but fair) challenge on Khalif Alhassan minutes into last week's game and the dangerous winger was barely heard from the rest of the game. With Donovan and Beckham likely out, I'd love to see similar treatment to Keane as I wonder how much his head is going to be in this game with the heat.
No Silly Set Pieces Even with Beckham out, the Galaxy are a very dangerous set piece team with Omar Gonzales back and a serious threat on corners while Juninho can always hit a long free kick. I really feel like Dallas can dominate this game tonight with the heat, but a great way to lose a game that you dominate is giving up silly set pieces.
REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Peter Manikowski; JAR (opposite): Eric Proctor; 4th: Armando Villarreal
MLS Career: 71 games; FC/gm: 24.4; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 14; pens: 11
Prediction 10-12 on the season
I was thinking that Dallas has struggled historically in front of big FCD Stadium crowds, but I found that isn't actually the case. Dallas is 6-2-2 in the 10 biggest attendances in Frisco and there seems to be some real good vibes coming from this team right now. With an unchanged lineup looking likely, I think Dallas rolls on with guys like Castillo and Shea that can be brought off the bench if things are close.
David Ferreira and the heat are too much for Los Angeles
2-0 FC Dallas