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LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman looks forward to first match vs. former team

LOS ANGELES -- Most of the big “firsts” for LAFC are now out of the way – the franchise opener, the first El Trafico derby, the home opener.

For defender Walker Zimmerman though, Saturday’s match against FC Dallas presents the first chance to play against a former club.

“I’ve never had this experience of playing against a former team,” he told MLSsoccer.com after training on Wednesday. “I’m excited for it.”

The 24-year-old center back joined the Texas outfit as part of the Generation adidas class of 2013. Over five seasons, Zimmerman played a vital role for the Dallas backline, including the 2016 campaign which brought FCD the U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield.

Now with LAFC, the US international is looking forward to finally competing against his former teammates.

“I have a lot of good friends still over there,” he said. “I talk to Ryan Hollingshead a lot, we were roommates for four years, we’re really close. Sometimes I’ll call and let him know just how awesome it is here and joke around and stuff like that, but all in all, not too much rubbing it in.”

Zimmerman also keeps up with Tesho Akindele, Victor Ulloa and Matt Hedges among other former FC Dallas teammates, he said. He even plays the occasional video game with defender Reggie Cannon.

With LAFC sitting in second place and Dallas in fourth, both Zimmerman's current and former teammates have plenty of reason to be hopeful at this stage of the season.

“We’re on a great start, to get the 12 points in six road games, then we got the three points at home [Sunday]," Zimmerman said. "We’re in a fantastic position with a lot of home games in front of us this month.

“Dallas has done well, they only have one loss on the year which was to New York City [FC] last week, so I know they’ll be wanting to bounce back.”

Dallas have conceded a league-low six goals, half of them coming in that 3-1 loss at Yankee Stadium against a strong NYCFC side that will visit Banc of California Stadium next weekend.

“They have a good mix of youth and experience, which is important in this league, and Oscar [Pareja] is a good tactician,” Zimmerman added about Saturday’s contest (3:55 pm ET | Univision, Twitter). “They are a team that covers a lot ground [and has a] pretty solid back six when they have their two defensive mids sitting in, so it’ll be our job to break that back six down.”

On the defensive side, Zimmerman noted that the LAFC backline needs to be wary of the counterattack, something coach Bob Bradley co-signed.

“They are fast in transition,” the LAFC boss said. “They have athletic guys. The ball turns over and they take off. That means that you need to be good in possession. That means your reactions when you lose the ball need to be very good.”