FC Dallas will welcome the LA Galaxy to town this week. LA has lost three straight and are coming off a pair of final score 3-2 losses against New York RB and Houston. This is their second straight road game in Texas. They have lost four of their last six matches and have an overall record of 3-5-1 for 10 points total, tied with Real Salt Lake for eighth in the West.
Dallas is now 3-1-4 after their draw against LAFC last week in California. They have 13 points and sit fourth in the West. The goal differential for both teams sums up their season thus far: FC Dallas is +4 with a strong defense and average offense, while LA is -4 having given up more than double the goals Dallas has (to be fair, most teams have the same stat).
Starting Lineup: 4-2-3-1
This will be the first matchup between these teams this season, and the second will come just three weeks later on May 31st. We all know the big draw in this game will be for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But LA has a wealth of offensive talent that can stack up the star power against anyone. The dos Santos brothers, Ola Kamara, Romain Alessandrini, and Sebastian Lletget all have the talent to make this game tough on the Dallas defense. Giovani dos Santos and Kamara have each scored in LA’s last two games; keeping them contained as well as Zlatan is going to require a great game plan from Coach Pareja.
The Galaxy’s weakest point is at the back. In the off-season LA brought in David Bingham as keeper from San Jose, which fixed a major problem from last season. However, they also replaced 3/4s of the back line, which has not fixed the problem from last season. Jorgen Skjelvik and Michael Ciani have not formed as solid of a center back pairing as Hedges and Zeigler have for Dallas. They have given up some - shall we say - soft goals this season.
Key Matchup: FC Dallas Back Line vs LA Galaxy Back Line
Let me explain – as stated above, the Galaxy attack has all the star power. They should – should – be the dominate offense in this game. But the Galaxy are very weak in the back and are susceptible to lapses in concentration which Dallas can, and should (that word again), be able to exploit. It’s a question of who blinks first – Dallas’ best defense in the league against the stars of LA or Dallas’ opportunistic offense vs a bottom 5 defense in the league.
1. Cage the Lion. (Sorry, it was too easy.) Keeping Ibra in check will fall mostly to the hands of Matt Hedges. I am not always confident in our Captain’s ability against large physical forwards, so it will be an interesting test to see how he matches up with Zlatan.
2. Score quickly. Easier said than done, right? But as Big Z said after the last game, “It is very irritating because after five minutes we conceded already a goal...It’s not good.” Indeed, not good at all, and exactly what FC Dallas needs to get in the heads of LA and make them chase the game. When you lose the mental side of the game, the rest is lost as well.
3. Play Kellyn and Jacori. This is probably more of a personal wish – but if Coach Pareja is going to continue baffling us all with starting lineups without Mauro Diaz, then we need to get at least one box-to-box midfielder in the game. Ulloa and Gruezo ain’t gonna cut it. So why settle for one, when you could play two in Acosta and Hayes together? Hayes has proven he has the defensive chops to fill in for Gruezo and has shown a good ability to get involved in the offense too. Put ‘em in Coach!
When you watch how these two teams have been playing, it’s hard to decide about how this game will go. The Galaxy have scored four goals in their last two games but come up lacking at the other end. Dallas has scored more than one goal in just two of their eight games this season – but have also only given up more than one goal just once. Being so stingy on defense, I think we can hold LA to just one goal. And the last defense we played that was in the bottom five, at the time, was Philadelphia. The final score - I think - ends up being a 2-1 win for Dallas.