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Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1LA
0SEA
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11/30 9:20pm
SEA
LA
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Western Conference Championship
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Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1NY
2NE
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Leg 2
11/29 3:00pm
NE
NY
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Eastern Conference Championship

FC Dallas host top-of-the-table clash

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COTTON BOWL

DALLAS, Texas

7:30 pm CT (no TV)

One of the marquee matchups of the first part of the season awaits at the Cotton Bowl, where the two teams will once again meet with the top spot in the Western Conference on the line. FC Dallas saw their four-match winning streak snapped last time out, but return for their first weekend home game in almost two months. The Los Angeles Galaxy, winless away from The Home Depot Center for almost a year, didn't get their four-game road swing off to the best of starts, failing to break down a nine-man Colorado Rapids on Wednesday.

REFEREE: Gus St. Silva. SAR (bench): Rob Fereday; JAR (opposite): Steven Taylor; 4th: Adam Garner

MLS Career: 30 games; FC/gm: 34.1; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 7; pens: 7

Games involving FC Dallas: P9 W6 L1 T2; FC/gm: 31.0; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 0; pens: 1

Games involving Galaxy: P1 W0 L1 T1; FC/gm: 41.0; Y/gm: 8.0; R: 0; pens: 1

INJURY REPORT: FC DALLAS - OUT: MF Richard Mulrooney (R knee ACL tear); FW Eddie Johnson (R toe stress-related injury); FW Carlos Ruiz (R ankle sprain) QUESTIONABLE MF Carey Talley (L rib cage injury) ... LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Chris Albright (L knee MCL sprain); FW Alan Gordon (R hip strain); FW Joseph Ngwenya (sports hernia surgery); DF Ben Benditson (sports hernia); DF Paul Broome (L foot sprain); MF Ned Grabavoy (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Guillermo Ramirez (L knee bruise)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: DAL: Ramon Nuñez (Honduras U-20; FIFA World Youth Championship)
SUSPENDED: none
YELLOW PERIL: LA: MF Paulo Nagamura (18 CP)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (35 meetings): FC Dallas 10 wins (1 shootout), 40 goals ... Galaxy 18 wins (1 shootout), 65 goals ... 7 draws
AT DALLAS (17 meetings): FC Dallas 7 wins (0 shootout), 30 goals ... Galaxy 5 wins (0 shootout), 28 goals ... 5 draws

• This is the second of four meetings between the clubs this season. They'll next meet twice in 10 days at season's end - Sept. 21 at the Frisco Soccer and Entertainment Center, then Oct. 1 on Victoria Street.

LAST MEETING

• On April 30 at the Home Depot Center, the Galaxy got a pair of first-half goals in sending FC Dallas to defeat for the first time this season.

• Landon Donovan scored his third goal in as many games since joining the Galaxy after just nine minutes, Cobi Jones lofting a ball from midfield into the heart of the Dallas backline where Donovan collected it, skipped through a tackle and slipped the ball over FCD 'keeper Scott Garlick.

• Peter Vagenas doubled the Galaxy lead just before the break on a well-designed set piece. Jovan Kirovski sent the ball wide of the goal from straight out from goal, where Jamaican international center back Tyrone Marshall headed it back down into the heart of the area. Vagenas sailed in unmarked and pounded home his second goal in as many weeks (39).

• Here's Steve Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright (Michael Umana 84), Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant - Cobi Jones (Ned Grabavoy 89), Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Guillermo Ramirez - Landon Donovan (Ednaldo da Conceicao 87), Jovan Kirovski

• Here's Colin Clarke's team (4-3-3): Scott Garlick - Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, David Wagenfuhr (Arturo Alvarez 83) - Richard Mulrooney, Simo Valakari (Roberto Mina 76), Carey Talley (Oscar Pareja 59) - Eddie Johnson, Carlos Ruiz, Ronnie O'Brien

HISTORY

• A year ago, the Galaxy won three of the four matches between the teams, winning both of the matches at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy won 3-1 at home on May 8 (Kirovski 57, 65; Ruiz 90 - Nhleko 6), then three weeks later on national TV grabbed a 4-1 victory at the Cotton Bowl (O'Brien 71 - Victorine 9, og 65, Kirovski 72, 90)

• Dallas then won for the only time in the series last year, a 2-0 victory on Sept. 18 at home (Johnson 10, 44), before the Galaxy returned the favor with a 2-0 victory on Oct. 9 in Carson (Kirovski 68, 85).

• The Galaxy have won six of the last seven meetings between the teams, after a stretch where six of the eight encounters ended in draws (each team winning on in that span, Dallas in extra time).

• The losing team hasn't scored more than a goal since the 2000 season, when the Burn posted a 4-2 home victory on July 1.

• Coaches record: Colin Clarke v LA: P5 W1 L4 D0 ... Steve Sampson vs. DAL: P3 W2 L1 D0

FC DALLAS

FC Dallas lost for just the second time this season, seeing their winning streak snapped at four games and their unbeaten string ended at six matches in a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Fire on Sunday evening. The Hoops are still in first place in the Western Conference heading into the weekend with 24 points from 12 matches, a point ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy in the West and a point behind the New England Revolution in the MLS overall table.

• The Fire survived a rough encounter and knocked off the Western Conference leader in winning their third consecutive game at home, though FC Dallas still retains the Brimstone Cup for the time being.

• Nate Jaqua gave Chicago a first-half lead when he raced onto the end of a deflected Justin Mapp cross that looped high into the air, sliding in to poke it home from close range (20). Then just after the full 90 minutes had ticked over, Lubos Reiter scored his first MLS goal, Thiago setting Ivan Guerrero free on the left, and his rolling cross was clinically turned home by the Slovakian international.

• FC Dallas nearly took an early lead as Ronnie O'Brien again almost hit a wonder goal, his chip from all of 45 yards catching Zach Thornton well off his line only to see the ball come back off the post. The Hoops committed 33 fouls in the match, tied for the third-highest total in league history, four off the MLS record.

• FC Dallas boss Colin Clarke made no changes to the team that recorded a 2-0 victory against Real Salt Lake the weekend before. Here's Clarke's team (4-1-4-1): Scott Garlick - Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, Greg Vanney, Chris Gbandi (Ty Maurin 85) - Simo Valakari - Arturo Alvarez, Ronnie O'Brien, Aaron Pitchkolan (Drew Moor 77), Roberto Mina - Carlos Ruiz (Abe Thompson 10)

• "It's one defeat, one game. We'll move forward and we'll be better for it," Clarke said. "[Traveling] is not an excuse. We knew what we were going into at the start of the year. It'd be nice to get home next week, but I give full credit to my boys and what they've put on the board so far after 12 games."

TEAM NEWS

• After coming back from a sprained ankle the week before, Ruiz had played the full match for Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at midweek. But then he lasted just 10 minutes in the Fire match before reinjuring the ankle.

• "It was a big blow when Carlos rolled his ankle, but the boys were very determined and played hard," Clarke said. "There's not going to be any panic. You want to win every game, but we are in a good position as we return home."

• Abe Thompson came on for Ruiz in his longest outing yet as a professional, and would appear to be the first-choice striker if Ruiz is unavailable and Eddie Johnson still slowed with turf toe.

• "He's kept up with things pretty well," Clarke said to The Star-Telegram. "He had a good preseason and reserve games in which he's been scoring goals, getting chances and making things happen. So I had no problems putting him in. I know he's got pace and strength and size. That's always going to help him in this league."

• Ronnie O'Brien's chance was similar to another long-range effort that nearly victimized the Fire, scored by the Galaxy's Jovan Kirovski from nearly the midfield stripe last season. "Thornton was out of position so I decided to let the ball go," O'Brien said. "It may have looked good and it was close, but it did not go in and we lost. I thought I should have made that shot." Said Clarke: "I thought we started the game brightly. Those are the things that make a difference. If that goes in, we're 1-0 up and on a good run."

• The match this weekend marks the first time in eight weekends the Hoops will have a home match. The loss to Chicago did snap two club record - the six-game unbeaten run and the three consecutive wins on the road. Still, despite the heavy road schedule (in advance of the opening of the new Frisco stadium, to be called Pizza Hut Park), Clarke wasn't overly concerned. "I'm sure this is a lot better than going on the road for your last 10 games, when everybody is hunting for playoff spots," he said to The Dallas Morning News.

• The first-half goal from Nate Jaqua was the first allowed by FCD 'keeper Scott Garlick on the road in 237 minutes. That's the second-longest road scoreless streak in team history, behind Matt Jordan (267 minutes, 1998-99).

LOS ANGELES GALAXY

The Los Angeles Galaxy saw their unbeaten run end at four matches as their road woes continued, falling 1-0 to a nine-man Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night in Denver to start a four-game road swing. The Galaxy missed out on a chance to take over the lead in the Western Conference, now with 23 points from 12 matches, a point behind FC Dallas, though they still have the third-best record in MLS.

• The Rapids survived playing two men down for the final half-hour and rode an early penalty for their first victory in just more than a month (since May 14).

• The Rapids took the lead after nine minutes when Cobi Jones clipped Jeff Cunningham in the area, and the veteran striker took his own penalty, putting it high past Kevin Hartman. It was his fifth goal on the campaign, but his first while in the starting lineup.

• But the Rapids went a man down just nine minutes later after Pablo Mastroeni was sent off for a flying tackle on opposite number Paulo Nagamura, then on the hour, Guy Melamed was also sent off for a two-footed tackle on Nagamura close to the top of the Galaxy box.

• The Rapids survived an incredible sequence late in the match, a couple of balls hooked away from the goalmouth and Joe Cannon sticking out a toe to somehow deny Landon Donovan from close range. Cannon was credited with seven saves in making his fifth shutout of the season.

• Galaxy boss Steve Sampson made one change to the team that defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 the previous Saturday in Carson. Naldo da Conceicao came back into the team on the left side of midfield as Guillermo Ramirez was rested.

• Here's Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Ugo Ihemelu (Michael Umana 46), Pablo Chinchilla (Herculez Gomez 64), Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant - Cobi Jones, Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Ednaldo da Conceicao (Mubarike Chisoni 73) - Landon Donovan, Jovan Kirovski

• "It's most important to put this game behind us. If we get a good result in Dallas, we'll be in good shape; we'll be on top of the table and that's what we came here for ... we have to focus on what is ahead of us and put this game in our rear view mirror," said Sampson

TEAM NEWS

• For the Galaxy, the loss meant they are still winless away from The Home Depot Center this season, and in three games when they've left southern California, they've scored just two goals.

• "You have to give Colorado a lot of credit for defending well and doing what they had to do. We should have played better and found ways to put the ball in the back of the net," Sampson said.

• The Galaxy failed to win on their travels in 2003 - the first ever to go winless on the road in a season - then last year claimed just three wins and five draws on the road, in the lower half of the league performance - and under Sampson were winless away from Carson. This season they have just the "road" victory against Chivas USA to show for their away form.

• "It was one of those nights when the ball was bouncing their way. Whether a ball went off the post like on Cobi's shot or someone got a foot to a cross, we could not get a break all night, said Tyrone Marshall.

• Still, the Galaxy head to Dallas with a chance to regain the top spot in the West, something they are looking forward to. "We need to learn from this and move forward. It was a hard one to take but we move on to Dallas Saturday knowing that if we get that win, we are in first place," said Marshall.


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