LAG Confidential's own Josie Becker joins us this week to answer 3 Questions about this weekend's home match against the Los Angeles Galaxy. If you can't make it to the stadium in Frisco, the game will be shown live on the NBC Sports Network starting at 6:30 pm CDT.
1. This LA squad has been a few stars short of a full Galaxy lately. However the start to 2013 has been better than what happened at the start of the 2012 season. What has been the key to improving upon the 2012 start and overcoming the absences of now-PSG-man David Beckham, M.I.A. Landon Donovan, and injured Robbie Keane?
The key difference between 2012's awful start and 2013 is the presence of Omar Gonzalez. A solid back line can take a team a long way in MLS (see: Salt Lake, Real & Kansas City, Sporting) carry clubs through international absences and injuries and all sorts of whatnot. LA has suffered without Beckham, Donovan, and Keane, but it's suffered offensively. Last year without Gonzalez they suffered defensively and it was all sorts of awful. LA has played two matches this year against teams who got red cards and played ten behind the ball, and since then CONCACAF Champions League has started up. It's been a strain, but strong defensive play has pulled the LA Galaxy through.
Essentially, the Galaxy have replaced David Beckham with a defender (Leonardo) moving A.J. DeLaGarza out and Sean Franklin into the midfield. Donovan's absence has allowed home grown players Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal to team up with Robbie Keane. When Keane was out, the kids were allowed to have full reign of the offense, which was entertaining but lacked polish.
2. How high is Mike Magee's ceiling? Do you think he could get a shot at the US National Team? I know he is on my fantasy team.
Mike Magee is 28 years old, so I think his ceiling is what we're watching right now. He's peaking, he's living up to the potential he's shown his whole career. Magee like Donovan came out of the IMG Academy, but Magee was misused for much of his career. He's a great finisher, and has that striker mentality that a Chris Wondolowski makes good money for. I think Arena is allowing him to play up higher now, even when he starts in the midfield, and it showed big in last year's playoffs and continuing into this year's start. I think we'll see a few ten goal years from him, no national team play.
3. What impact does Wednesday's CCL loss in Monterrey have on the team heading to Dallas? Do you expect fatigue and morale to be a concern?
Well in Monterrey Mike Magee picked up a knock, but I think he'll start against Dallas. He gave a half hour of effort and I think the soreness will be behind him by week end. Landon Donovan went ninety minutes, and I think that effectively rules him out against Dallas given his current fitness level. I don't get the feeling Colin Clark traveled, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Magee and Franklin start at the wide midfield spots with one of the homegrown players playing up top with Robbie Keane. Donovan could be available off the bench.
I don't think morale will be an issue, the team played hard up until the point where they ran out of gas. I think LA will be hungry to get a result that pushes the series with Monterrey out of their minds.
Thank you to Josie for participating this week. You can discuss my answers with the LA fanbase over at LAG Confidential. Here is the rundown of my answers however, so let me know in the comments if you agree of disagree. What other thoughts do you have on Josie's responses or my responses?
My answers to LAG Confidential's questions.
1. FC Dallas has had a hot start to 2013, which surprised some as they lost Brek Shea in the offseason. How was that transfer money spent, and how have FC Dallas filled the hole he left in the starting XI?
The transfer money was well spent in bringing in veteran reinforcements such as Kenny Cooper, Michel, and Eric Hassli. This has been a great help to FC Dallas because the team has been lacking depth on the bench and when squad rotation becomes necessary. Ramon Nunez was another addition to the team who has recently returned to training and is hoped to see first team minutes soon.
As important as Brek Shea was to FC Dallas, he didn't leave too large a hole on the field. The senior team is flush with wingers. Fabian Castillo and Jackson have been doing well so far this season. The striker reinforcements also allow Hyndman to play more than one forward at a time, so the team in 2013 is more dynamic and less dependent on the wings for service.
2. That was essentially two questions, so I'll keep this one brief. Jackson, star or time bomb?
If you had asked me this question in 2011, I would have said time bomb. However, nowadays, he is an absolute gem. He is and will continue to be an MLS star. Jackson has really matured over the past year or so. He got married in 2011 and then returned to Brazil in the offseason to take care of his family. FCD helped set up a loan deal so that he could work while he was in Brazil, leaving the FCD faithful unsure if he would ever return to Texas. When injuries ravaged the senior squad, FC Dallas recalled Jackson in April of last year. Jackson has been a beacon of light since returning to Big D. The guy is all over the field, and he almost never runs out of energy. He was an absolute lifesaver during the 2012 season during the extended injury spell, and he has started off 2013 as one of our best, if not THE best player. I don't know what exactly happened in Brazil during his time away, but Jackson is a star today.
3. Dallas just got done hosting the annual Dallas Cup. Did anything interesting happen this year?
I would say that one of the most interesting storylines was the appearance of Emerson Hyndman. The grandson of FCD Head Coach, Schellas Hyndman, plays for the Fulham FC Academy. The American put in a strong performance over the course of the tournament and helped Fulham to win the Championship match over Japan's Kashiwa Reysol.
Additionally, this year marked the return of the Dallas Cup tournament to the City of Dallas. The tournament has been held at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco the last several years since the stadium was completed in 2005. The relocation is good for the tournament because they are able to spread the matches throughout the Dallas area rather than have everything centralized in the northern suburb. Dallas Cup matches were played at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park and on the soccer fields at Richland College and the University of Texas at Dallas.
Thanks for reading!