There was talk all week about how to correctly determine the regular season champion. For the Los Angeles Galaxy, tonight is their reward for their hard work, as they get to host the championship of the Western Conference. The reward of course will be for naught if they don’t take care of business against FC Dallas.
The Galaxy had the sixth-best home record in the regular season (9-4-2), owing largely to a mid-season swoon when the Galaxy couldn’t buy a win. However, the Galaxy haven’t lost a playoff game at home since 1998. As LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said:
“What you’re really playing for in the regular season is the have the chance to play this home game to go to the MLS Cup. Now we’ve done that and we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
The Galaxy have defeated Dallas both times they faced them this year, early in the year 1-0 at Dallas then a 2-1 victory at home on the last day of the regular season. That 2-1 victory was of the come from behind variety, as the Galaxy had to battle back from 1-0 after Dallas put in an early goal. They were able to battle back as they had only done one other time this season.
“We went down a goal early and the whole team did well to come back and fight for that win. That was very high, fast-paced, guys fighting up the sides, in the middle. There’s a lot to take away from that game. It’s fresh in our minds,” said Omar Gonzalez.
Edson Buddle, who was a hair’s breath from the Golden Boot title this year, followed that up with a goal in each leg of the Seattle series. This prolific year is a far cry from the past when Edson could be spotty, and last year when he didn’t put in a single goal once the Galaxy began their run to the Cup final. The goal was his first postseason goal since Oct 31st, 2004.
“This season has been going well with scoring goals,” he said. “Our team is getting me the ball in the right positions so it makes my job a lot easier.”
For the fourth straight week the Galaxy will be facing a team that builds attacks from the wide positions. FC Dallas is a team which has been known to go forward quickly, not wasting much time in the buildup. This contrasts with the slower, conservative and defensive style of the Galaxy.
“Thier flank play, the combination of players they use whether it’s been Harris, Chavez, Brek Shea, [Jackson Goncalves]…they’ve been outstanding in those categories,” said coach Bruce Arena. “The experience of Hernandez holding in the midfield…they have a team, I’ve said this before, they’re very good in every position on the field.”