The Home Depot Center, Carson Ca 5pm PDT (FS-West)
It's the last match on the last day of the MLS regular season, and for the Los Angeles Galaxy (17-7-5, 56pts.) the mission is simple: come away with points today against F.C. Dallas (12-3-14, 50pts.) and the Supporter's Shield will be theirs. Presented annually at the Supporter's Summit at the MLS Cup, the Supporter's Shield goes to the team with the most points at the end of the MLS regular season. As of this morning, the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake are tied with 56 points a piece with Salt Lake holding the tie breaker in goal differential. Last week's tumble means the Galaxy can't reach a record 60 points, but with any points today they'll ensure another piece of hardware in the trophy case.
Chris Birchall is listed as questionable with a calf contusion, an injury caused by direct contact with the muscle crushing it against the bone, after suffering a hard foul in last week's match against Colorado. Todd Dunivant and Leonardo remain listed as questionable. Dallas will be without star defender Heath Pierce, as he's suspended for caution accumulation. Galaxians Juninho and Michael Stephens are on yellow card warning.
The Galaxy lead the all time series 24-18-9. In their first meeting this year, the Galaxy defeated Dallas 1-0 at Pizza Hut Park. In recent history this series has been dominated by the away squad; Last year Dallas won 6-3 at Home Depot Center while in 2008 the Galaxy won 5-1 at Pizza Hut Park. Those six goals in 2009 were the most given up by the Galaxy in team history.
At that last meeting, the lone goal was scored in the 17th minute as Tristan Bowen found room to run along the right flank, then slid a centering pass right in front of Mike Magee who tapped it home easily. The Galaxy were without Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle in that match as they were off on World Cup duty. Yet the strong backfield of A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, and Todd Dunivant were able to keep Donovan Ricketts with the clean sheet.
Since they failed to clinch the Shield last match this week got ratcheted up in intensity, which may turn out to be a boon for the LA Galaxy:
"It’s changed from having more of a relaxed week to a not intense one but one that we have to be up for,"
Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said. "It’s important that we now concentrate this week, put this game behind
us and hopefully win next week."
Gregg Berhalter, who was understandably a bit rusty last match, summed up the flow of play pretty well:
"We were in absolute control of the game, playing very well. Then that fluke goal comes. I think that was the
first time that they were actually in our 18 and they scored on an own goal that touched two of our players before going in which rarely ever happens and it changed the game," said Berhalter. "Our heads when down a bit, we were still dominating and then they get another chance and they score and we are down 2-1 all of a sudden out of nowhere."
Also of note from last match is David Beckham going the full 90 for only the second time this season. Said captain Landon Donovan:
"I think getting David back in has been a little difficult. We have to adjust, and I think tonight, performance-wise, is the best we have played together," said Landon Donovan. "It is still going to take time. Soccer at any level comes down to making plays and tonight they made the plays and we didn’t. In the playoffs, you have to do that."
Dallas, which saw it's unbeaten streak end at 19 games last week, comes into the match third place in the west, looking to bounce back from a 2-0 loss against second place Real Salt Lake. Should the Galaxy manage to get points out of this match they will start the post-season at Seattle for a home and home series. If Dallas is able to defeat the Galaxy, they would welcome Los Angles to Pizza Hut Park in the first round. However, Dallas will have to buck against a current trend; after not allowing more than one goal in a MLS game for more than five months, FC Dallas has allowed two goals in back to back games and in four of their last six.