The LA Galaxy are looking for some revenge on Wednesday night at StubHub Center when they face-off against FC Dallas for the second time this month (7:30 p.m.; Spectrum SN, Spectrum Deportes). And they’ll have to do it as they enter a heavy schedule that will see them play four times in the next 12 days.
The Galaxy (5-6-1) are coming off back-to-back shutout wins for the first times since October 2016 and are currently just one position outside of a playoff spot in the Western Conference (7th). With their 1-0 wins over Montreal on the road and, San Jose at home, the club has improved its overall record and improved their home form to 3-3-0 in 2018 — which tied the number of home wins the organization collected in the totality of the 2017 season.
And the confidence that has been gained – even if beating bad teams – is starting to earn the Galaxy some dividends.
“Obviously when you win games it always helps your confidence and your momentum,” Sigi Schmid explained to reporters after training on Monday. “Those are positive things for us.
“We’re happy we played to zero both of the games. We talked about the last game where we’re a team that’s going to find a goal somewhere so we just have to take care of our defending. Confidence, solid defending all makes it a little bit better.”
And for the Galaxy, a club that has given up 19 goals — a stat that puts them in the middle of the pack in MLS — they’ll need to keep Dallas off the board if they’re hoping to get a result. Something they failed to do in their previous meeting.
For their part, Dallas (5-1-5) is coming off a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC last Friday in a game that saw the team’s leading scorer Maxi Urruti net his sixth goal of the campaign in the 11th minute. Urruti also leads the team in shots (37), and shots on goal (15) and was one of the goal scorers on May 12 when Dallas scored three times in their 3-2 victory over the Galaxy.
Mauro Diaz, and the man who scored twice in the last meeting with the Galaxy, Roland Lamah, will also pose a significant threat to the Galaxy’s defense and Jorgen Skjelvik and Michael Ciani will do well to keep them off the board – even if the two are starting to see some improvements in their chemistry.
Sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference, Dallas has lost just one game all year – a 3-1 loss to NYC on April 29 – and is unbeaten in their last four games. But, in a blow to their stellar defense, will be without center-back Matt Hedges who will be suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation.
“It’s going to be hard because they are important for the team,” Ciani told reporters after training on Monday. “We have some good players to step in. It’s part of soccer; whenever there are players out we have to figure it out. It’s going to be fine. It’s all about mentality. With the red cards, with the injuries, it’s complicated. But we have to get used to it.”
Schmid had a similar view but also preached some caution.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s also fun from the standpoint of trying to piece together different things and see what works,” he said. “It’s more of a challenge this year than it has been with some other teams I’ve had because when you have continuity maybe through your first 10, 11 games then you’re saying ‘OK, you lose this, now let’s focus on this group.’ But we really haven’t had continuity in terms of key pieces, getting guys to play together. Our continuity hasn’t been there and this just gives you less options.”
So for many reasons — the schedule and player absences — expect some rotation in the squad in the coming games.
Ashley Cole should return as a starter and not a sub in this game, and Dave Romney will likely take back his right-back position from Emrah Klimenta. The midfield could find itself with Perry Kitchen and Servando Carrasco playing the defensive midfielder roles with Ola Kamara (who will depart for International duty after the game), Romain Alessandrini and Sebastian Lletget providing service to Ibrahimovic up top.
Kitchen, who’s started every game this season, will need to be on his best behavior as he still sits on yellow card warning with his next caution seeing him suspended for a game. And with games against Portland and Real Salt Lake still in the cards before the World Cup break, making the Galaxy any more shorthanded would really hurt.
“It’s tough, especially with missing pieces,” Schmid lamented. “We’ve got to rotate around a little bit and make things work for us, take one game at a time.
“We were focused on the San Jose game, and now we’re focused on Dallas. We owe them a little bit from our game down there.”
Whether or not the Galaxy can continue to keep teams off the board will determine their success. And with a shutout streak of 218 minutes and counting, the longer they can frustrate a talented Dallas team, the more likely they’ll be able to get a result from the game.