Earlier in the week, FC Dallas players were talking about their CONCACAF Champions League preliminary-round game against Alianza FC as being the most important game of the season.
After crossing CCL qualification off their list, second-place FCD now meet the first-place LA Galaxy Saturday night (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) for the top spot in the league standings.
“Tomorrow’s game is the most important game of the season,” FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Los Angeles on Friday. “We have to focus on playing the No. 1 team and we put ourselves in a great position to be competing for that No. 1 spot.”
Added newly minuted US national team call-up Zach Loyd: “It’s definitely a very big game for us. Right now we are competing for that top spot not only in the Western Conference, but in the league so I think we are all mentally ready.”
FC Dallas’ lineup is certain to change after Hyndman revealed that Jackson — who received a hard challenge on his right ankle during Wednesday’s game — did not travel with the team. Add the fact that both new acquisitions Maicon Santos and longtime Belgian league attacking midfielder Daniel Cruz traveled with the team to California and the roster takes on a profoundly different appearance.
However, Hyndman would not divulge any information on his lineup for Saturday’s matchup.
“We are not going to address that,” he said. “What we are going to say is that we are glad to have both Maicon and Daniel with us. They are going to bring soccer savviness and soccer intelligence and I think that might help us a little bit. I’m sure they’ll find an opportunity to get on the field at some point in time.”
The last time Dallas faced the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center was in the 2010 Western Conference Championship, a spectacular result as FCD steamrolled to a 3-0 win. Between that and LA losing Wednesday night in Portland for the first time in 14 games, FC Dallas expect a hungry and determined opponent for 90 minutes Saturday night in Carson.
“They obviously had a hiccup against Portland,” said Hyndman. They’re a well-coached team and Bruce [Arena] will have them ready for us.”
Dallas enter Saturday’s game having played four straight weeks of midweek games. During Wednesday’s postgame press conference, Hyndman cited some players as being fatigued and he believes the Galaxy will try to exploit them early in Saturday’s game.
“I expect them to come out early, putting a lot of pressure on us trying to accommodate our weary legs, and try to go up on us," he said. "What we need to do is just be able to battle and find a way to score goals.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached on Twitter: @FCDallasBeatGuy