The LA Galaxy have flown down to Dallas to take them on in LA's penultimate MLS road match of the 2014 season. To get a sense of where FC Dallas is at and how the Galaxy are seen, Brian Wacholz of Big D Soccer and I exchanged three questions. First, my answers to his questions and later I'll post his answers to my questions.
1. Keane, Gonzalez, Donovan, and Sorto are all playing matches for their countries during this FIFA window. Who will miss Sunday's match against Dallas, and who on the bench needs to step up to replace the internationals?
Sorto hasn't played a minute for the senior team this season so lets knock that one out to start. Robbie Keane and Ireland are in qualifiers for Euro 2016, so he'll be gone the whole international weekend. Had a hat trick for the Irish this morning, so it seems to be going well.
Landon Donovan went just over forty minutes for the United States in his tribute match, and he will pay against Dallas. The same for Omar Gonzalez, he's been released and won't continue on to the next US friendly.
This makes Keane the only player the Galaxy need to replace due to international duty. Alan Gordon will likely get the start, which typically has affected his ability to impact the game. Marcelo Sarvas, who misses due to yellow card accumulation will be harder to replace.
2. Beyond player selection itself, how do you think Bruce Arena is adjusting tactics to succeed against a dangerously unpredictable FC Dallas team?
The one style point in common with both of LA's victories over Dallas is an attack through the middle. In both wins, Robbie Keane played underneath a young forward but ended up scoring himself. If the Galaxy weren't also missing Marcelo Sarvas then Donovan could step up and play the shepherding role, but alas.
For this reason I'm wondering if LA will go back to the diamond midfield. Donovan isn't at his best as a CAM, but it gives him more direct access to the forwards in a situation where Arena can't count on Keane to direct Gyasi Zardes.
3. With the news that Chivas USA all but confirmed to be folding after this season, how will that absence impact the LA Galaxy's recruiting policies for the youth academy and also operations around the Stub Hub Center?
Well it'll mean more talent in the system for sure. LA already poached a great deal of talent from Chivas USA over the last academy offseason as the Goats were going through their lawsuit. That's how they got Bradford Jamieson IV who has already gotten some first team playing time.
Around the Center it'll mean some extra locker rooms and offices around the place, but over the last few years LA has already started to operate as if Chivas were nothing but an afterthought. They built a champions lounge filled with Galaxy trophies, and which players pass through after games to socialize and sign autographs.
I expect them to continue that, making permanent Galaxy branded spaces around the stadium. It's something that the newer MLS stadiums have done right, and which the StubHub! Center needs to catch up on.