Thanks to Josie Becker of LAG Confidential for trading three questions with me on tonight's big game. Thanks to her for the responses!
For my answers to her questions click here
1) What’s the state of the Galaxy attack right now? Robbie Keane and Mike Magee did a number on Dallas with Donovan and Beckham out in the last game between the two squads
Coming off a 5 goal match it's easy to say the the Galaxy attack has hit a fine stride. Robbie Keane seems good for a goal every time out, and Landon Donovan has done a great job as his partner up top. David Beckham come back to form with incredible accuracy, while Juninho has refound the scoring touch after floundering a bit earlier in the year.
Mike Magee is still liable to scrap in a goal or too. The CCL match, as much of a circus as it was, shows all the avenues that the Galaxy have available to them when trying to score. Beckham's corners and his balls from the run of play. Robbie Keane's ability to worm through a back line. Juninho's ability to come out of the midfield on a dead run and still be accurate.
That combined with Landon Donvan's "whatever the match needs" style and Mike Magee's effort makes the Galaxy a difficult team to keep off the scoreboard. Now, getting into a shootout with the Galaxy, well that's a whole 'nother matter.
Dallas native Omar Gonzalez has been training his whole life to be a top level soccer player and it shows. He and A.J. DeLaGarza are part of that encouraging trend of American soccer players who spent many years in the development system and are smart soccer players as well as great athletes, instead of simply great athletes.
Which is to say you could probably plug him in to any squad and he'd catch on right away. It was slow going at first, since the Galaxy didn't have any reserve matches and he had to get his rehab minutes in during league matches. He's going the full 90 now and has looked completely fit. Last year's back line of Gonzalez, DeLaGarza, Franklin, and Dunivant have looked solid.
A lot of back line play has to do with trust, and that is certainly a group that trusts each other. There are still issues of communication between the levels, the Galaxy gave up a goal on Thursday from a midfielder assuming a defender was going to step up when that wasn't the case. So the group isn't yet back to the level they were last year when clean sheets were the norm.
Dallas are hot, no doubt about it, but they're also tied for most games played with Real Salt Lake and have a lower points per game average than Chivas USA. That's fewest goals scored in MLS Chivas USA. So I'd be hesitant to put too much on this one match.
I've seen a noticeable shift in attitude since the tiebreakers were announced. Being second most in goals for really gives the Galaxy a bit of confidence when it comes to teams catching up. Dallas are 11 behind the Galaxy in that category, and Chivas only have 15 goals on the season, so it's a situation where any team below the Galaxy on the table have to outpace them and then hold that pace.
The Galaxy were really the last team this year to hit a sprint and hold it. The top four otherwise has been amazingly consistent with Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders holding their spots despite worrisome results streaks. Until one of the bottom five teams can achieve a points per game pace on par with the top five, I feel pretty confident saying the playoff field is set.
4) Bonus: Tell us about a Galaxy player who may not be a household name that could have an impact on Sunday
If Marcelo Sarvas isn't a household name yet he should be. He impressed Bruce Arena enough during last year's CCL play that Arena bought him, and he's played the role of spark plug for the Galaxy this year. He hasn't put himself in the stat column too much, but he's a hard worker who creates chances for others. Look for him to make an impact on Sunday.