The statistical recap of the LA Galaxy's draw in Frisco, Texas is going to be more difficult than most weeks. Given the controversial nature of allowing two goals with players in offside positions, there will be a large discrepancy between how folk feel about the match and what the statistics say. For example, here's how Bruce Arena felt about the match.
"Guys were offside," said Bruce Arena. "In professional games you have to assume the linesmen can make those calls. However, on the third goal, you've got to do a better job. But, you know, what can you do? This is the state of officiating."
Thus when the statistics show that with six set piece shot opportunities, three of which resulted in goal, FC Dallas were effective at creating goalscoring opportunities from set pieces and were strong at finishing there's a bit of an asterisk. Yes Dallas was strong at finishing, after gaining an advantage by trailing offside.
Set piece goals with offside players aside, the Galaxy did a fair job of limiting Dallas to shots outside the penalty area during the run of play. Half of Dallas' shots came from outside the eighteen yard box (one of which resulted in a goal). From that perspective, LA's run of play defense was fairly solid.
Despite two non calls on offside plays, Dallas did get called for offside six times. Typically this was on long balls from the midfield area, so the LA high line worked when it came to limiting aggressive counters.
With six set piece goalscoring opportunities, it would seem likely that LA gave up a number of fouls near the penalty area. However, there were only two. Both led to goals, and both were handballs. Dallas was much worse, giving up five fouls within set piece range. Still, Omar Gonzalez didn't chalk it up to hard luck.
"It's been the story all year with our set pieces, said Omar Gonzalez, "where we fall asleep and they end up getting a goal. It's just a matter of putting everything you have into that 15 to 30 second play. It just has to be better. Our fight has to be better."
Offensively the Galaxy had many strengths to hang their hat on. They controlled possession and created a high number of shot attempts. Robbie Keane's through ball and Donovan's finish created a goalscoring opportunity though individual skill. Sarvas laid a ball off to Donovan that he finished in a long shot goalscoring situation. Then finally Donovan scored off a sideline set piece situation.
Both LA and Dallas were strong at finishing, at a better than 10% conversion rate for both sides. Most of the style comments were to be expected, controlling possession in the opponent's half and dominating possession. LA also did most of their attacking through the middle and sent in 29 crosses (the five successful ones were all key passes), which seems counterintuitive. All of the crosses came from the wings, so imagine the ball coming up the middle, then being sent out to the wing to come back in.
It's easy to argue that had the ref called just two more offside fouls, LA would have won by a handful of goals. Certainly, controversy aside, LA showed more positive elements that Dallas. Real Salt Lake will be a truer test, but it would be wrong to say LA didn't play well in Dallas.