LA GALAXY vs. FC DALLAS
STUBHUB CENTER, Carson, Calif.
August 10, 2016 (U.S. Open Cup)
10 pm ET (ESPN2 in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada)
Two of the top dogs in the Western Conference will meet with a chance to advance to the US Open Cup final when FC Dallas visit the LA Galaxy on Wednesday night. The two sides are meeting for the first time in any competition in 2016, and the stakes and intensity will be high as LA attempt to close in on their third Open Cup title while Dallas look for their second. There should be plenty of talent on display here as well, as the likes of Giovani Dos Santos and Mauro Diazcould feature for their respective sides.
Skill For Days
While there is no guarantee as to who will start or play in this match, it seems likely that both the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas will field strong teams given what is up for grabs. That means that we could see several of the more skilled and experienced players going at it in a pressure-packed game, which should make for an entertaining affair that could resemble a playoff match.
The midfield battle will be particularly interesting to watch, especially if the two clubs go with largely first-choice players. LA boast a well-seasoned combination of flair and industry in the center of the field with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Nigel de Jong, but Dallas also have talent with players such as string-puller Diaz, promising young American Kellyn Acosta, and Ecuadorian international Carlos Gruezo.
This match also marks the first of three meetings between now and October for the Galaxy and FC Dallas, and should provide a glimpse of what we can expect later this year when they face off twice in MLS regular season play during the final month of the regular season.
Closing in on a Goal
FC Dallas have been one of the stronger teams in MLS since Oscar Pareja took over as head coach and implemented a philosophy of fielding younger players. Still, as talented as they are, Dallas have yet to win hardware under Pareja, whose desire to win trophies has remained unfulfilled.
After coming so very close to winning the Supporters' Shield last season, missing out due to goal difference, both Pareja and his squad will want to make the most of this opportunity. They know from experience how tough it is to be on the verge of winning something of importance only to lose out late, and will not want to repeat that with a place in the finals on the line.
For Dallas, the challenge is to play to their potential. The club has won narrowly in each of its three games in the tournament thus far, including last month's quarterfinals victory over the Houston Dynamo, and will now have to make due without dynamic winger Fabian Castillo, who scored the decisive goal against Houston but is on loan in Turkey as of last week.
On a Roll
As far as the Open Cup goes, the Galaxy have been one of the more impressive sides. They won their first game vs. amateur underdogs La Maquina FC, 4-1, and then took care of business against the defending MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers with a 1-0 victory before handing the Seattle Sounders a 4-2 defeat in the quarterfinals in July.
LA's star-studded squad has gotten contributions from a number of players, including Golden Boot runner-up Sebastian Lletget (four goals), and that only bodes well for Bruce Arena's side as it plays inside the friendly confines of StubHub Center. There, the Galaxy have yet to lose this season, going 6-0-5 in MLS play and 2-0 in Open Cup games.