I disregarded two important things in this week's FIFA14 Preview. First, I know there is a FIFA15. By all accounts, it starts to fully-utilize a PS4 or XBox One in terms of graphics quality. Secondly, I know that Landon Donovan is technically called-up to the national team and not going to play for the Galaxy this weekend.
Since I have a PS3, not 4, and for old time's sake, I played FIFA14. And I didn't keep Donovan out of the LA Galaxy's lineup. In fact, I kind of totally disregarded current form of players because a) my Internet was not working (yay for cable companies!) and b) I haven't played with the factory ratings of players in a while.
The goal of this FIFA14 Preview series has always been to help understand what might happen in any upcoming match. As the season winds down, I wanted to understand who the Galaxy really are and how much the really depend on LD anymore.
What I found was that Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Keane both might mean more to the overall success of LA than does Donovan. I would even argue that AJ De La Garza and Omar Gonzalez are equally important when it comes to winning a single game down the stretch.
During the match, Gonzalez foiled almost all of my attempted through-balls anywhere in his area. Zardes and Keene had a knack for finding open spaces against Dallas defenders and with Donovan feeding them balls, they peppered Raul Fernandez' goal.
Tesho Akindele started up front for me in this one, and it was his goal that started the scoring. Like many of his goals in real life, this one wasn't crazy -- just a solid finish from a guy in the right place. As Andres Escobar raced down the right side and cut in, he drew an extra defender. Escobar dished to Akindele, who took a single small touch and slotted the ball into the net.
I was really proud of myself for this goal. Usually, I'm too quick to hit turbo, which is almost a guaranteed bad play when working in close quarters inside the opponents' box. The score was 1-0 FC Dallas.
It turns out the Zardes and Keene are really hard to keep off the scoreboard. I play aggressively in the video game and the pair took advantage of it in the 53rd minute. I brought keeper Raul Fernandez out a little too early to try to stop a breakaway. Fernandez saved the initial shot by Keene, but Zardes tapped home the miss. The Galaxy are perennial contenders, and their talent level in the game reflects that every year.
The game winner
While Akindele's earlier goal was very professional, Fabian Castillo's game-winner was electric. After taking an 82nd minute pass on the wing from Victor Ulloa, Castillo raced down the left channel with pace, slowed to cut inside, and then turbo'd past the defender to the left. The shot was a left-footed rocket that beat the keeper to the far post. The crowd went wild. I pumped my fist. The game was in hand; 2-1 FC Dallas.
What we can learn
With or without Landon Donovan, the Galaxy are deep and dangerous. They aren't scared of anyone and think they should win every time they come onto the pitch. With Dallas trying to clinch a playoff spot, they can look at the attitude the Galaxy bring to every match -- something that's hard to replicate in a video game.
Maybe that's what's changed for FC Dallas this season. A win against ANY team is no longer surprising to me. Anything could happen in this one, but I'm going to go with my FIFA14 score and say 2-1 Hoops.