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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting LA Galaxy

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Carson, California is the venue for the first match in a 34-game MLS season for FC Dallas.

MLS: FC Dallas at LA Galaxy Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Carson, California is the venue for the first match in a 34-game MLS season for FC Dallas.

FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON

FC Dallas got their first taste of competitive matches this past week when they played Árabe Unido twice. LA Galaxy fans and players have been salivating over this home opener since their disappointing end of 2016 after a heart-breaking playoff exit when they lost in penalty kicks to the Colorado Rapids.

LA GALAXY

LA Galaxy has had a busy offseason, unloading guys such as DeLaGarza, Steven Gerrard, Jeff Larentowicz, Mike Magee, Robbie Keane, Alan Gordon, and Landon Donovan. They have also picked up a few players, the noteworthy ones being Joao Pedro (CDM), Jermaine Jones (CM), and Romain Alessandrini (LM).

The club has also had to deal with a coaching change. When Bruce Arena signed a contract extension with LA, there was a clause stating that he would be allowed to leave if offered the head coaching job of the USMNT. Sure enough, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati came calling and signed him up for the job, and Bruce took some of his Galaxy coaching staff with him. LA Galaxy’s new head coach is Curt Onalfo, who was previously the coach of LAGII, LA Galaxy’s USL affiliate.

INJURIES:

LA – Gyasi Zardes - questionable; Ashley Cole - out; Robbie Rogers - out

POTENTIAL LINEUP:

GK: Rowe; LB: Dave Romney; CB: Jelle Van Damme (C); CB: Daniel Steres; RB: Rafael Garcia; CDM: João Pedro; LM: Romain Alessandrini; CM: Jermaine Jones; RM: Sebastian Lletget; ST: Emmanuel Boateng; ST: Giovani Dos Santos

Lineup Notes:

  • LA Galaxy will go to their academy this year for playing time. Look for some combination of Jose Villarreal, Jack McBean, and Ariel Lassiter to come off the bench.
  • Gyasi Zardes picked up a knee injury at the USMNT January camp, and it required surgery. He started training again with the rest of the Galaxy (no pun intended) this past week. He might play on Saturday and could even get the start, but don’t expect him to go the whole 90 minutes.

KEY MATCHUP

Cristian Colman vs. Van Damme. How will FC Dallas’ new DP stack up against one of the league’s best defenders and LA Galaxy’s newly named captain? We shall see.

KEYS TO THREE POINTS

The wings.

LA Galaxy’s two starting fullbacks are out with injury. Rafael Garcia and Dave Romney will likely be given the tough tasks against FC Dallas’ speedy wingers. Lamah was given the game off on Wednesday in Panama, while Barrios went the full 90 minutes.

Fitness.

Hedges, Zimmerman, Grana, Gruezo, and Barrios all went 90 minutes or close to 90 minutes in both games against Árabe Unido. These players are integral parts of FC Dallas, and we’ll see if Pareja gives them another 90-minute shift and if they show any fatigue.

Set pieces.

Árabe Unido’s stoppage time goals both came from set pieces, which was a weakness last year for FC Dallas as well. FCD will need to sort out these issues. Offensively, I don’t think Morales will get the start, so it’s going to be up to Kellyn Acosta to send some good deliveries in.

Prediction

FC Dallas is going to be prepared after playing a pair of competitive games already. The preseason trip to Argentina for fitness will pay off, and FC Dallas will take early advantage of LA Galaxy’s makeshift backline, but the roaring fans will propel LA to a tie in the end, which is still a positive away result for FC Dallas.

My Prediction: 2-2 tie