FCD look to increase West lead
DALLAS - Saturday's clash between FC Dallas and the Los Angeles Galaxy could well be a preview of this year's Western Conference Final, the Hoops holding a slim one-point lead on the Galaxy in the conference as the halfway point of the season approaches.
FC Dallas and the Galaxy have been battling for the top spot since the start of the season, with the third-place San Jose Earthquakes trailing their southern California rival by eight points.
Both teams are looking to get back to their winning ways after dropping their last game. FCD fell to the Chicago Fire - in second place in the Eastern Conference - in a 2-0 loss last Sunday in the second leg of the Brimstone Cup, but they will retain the cup for a fourth consecutive year (assuming the two teams don't meet again in either the U.S. Open Cup or MLS Cup Final).
On Wednesday, the Galaxy lost their opportunity to overtake Dallas for the top spot as they lost 1-0 to the Colorado Rapids in Denver despite having a two-man advantage. The Rapids had one player sent off shortly after taking a lead early in the game, then had a second receive a red card with 30 minutes left.
L.A. could not muster up an attack until the closing minutes of the match and Colorado 'keeper Joe Cannon rose to the occasion and stopped everything. The loss started a four-game road trip for the Galaxy - who haven't won away from The Home Depot Center this season.
"I know they have struggled on the road this season; their confidence on the road may be shaken," said FCD defender Greg Vanney. "But they will come in and work hard to get a result here."
The Hoops are happy to be back at home for a two-game homestand after being on the road for four games in a row, recording a 3-1 record and improving their road record to a league-best 15 points from nine games, with four wins and three draws.
After facing the Galaxy on Saturday, FCD face their stadium mate in Chivas USA on Wednesday. But first is a chance for redemption - the 2-0 loss to the Galaxy on April 30 was the first of the season for the Hoops.
"We felt we should have gotten some points out of it but we didn't," said FCD midfielder Ronnie O'Brien. Added midfielder Oscar Pareja: "It is going to tell us how good we are. Hopefully we can get the results and the points."
Since the loss to the Galaxy, the FC Dallas defense - and center back Clarence Goodson in particular - has greatly matured. In that first game Landon Donovan caused some significant problems for a back four that to that point had not been greatly tested.
"I think Clarence [Goodson] just needs to develop and not get caught up in individual battles with Landon [Donovan] or with anybody," said Vanney. "I think he is progressing well, he has done a great job this season."
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.