FC Dallas got a come from behind victory over the LA Galaxy (17-6-9, 60 pts) this evening, the first time this season that the Galaxy lost after scoring the first goal. In this 74th all time meeting between the two clubs, the third most played series in MLS history, David Teixeira and Fabian Castillo scored in the second half to erase the first half lead the Galaxy held on the back of a beautiful Stefan Ishizaki chip.
Had the Galaxy won, they would have been able to clinch the Supporters' Shield with a win over Seattle at home next weekend. Seattle's odds of winning the West and the Supporters' Shield jumped up slightly, as they hold the tiebreaker over LA. LA losing that points means they'll have to do better than a split in the final series of the season.
"We know what's ahead of us," said Bruce Arena.
For Dallas, they clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The next two games for the Galaxy will show how much teams value the Supporters' Shield and how much playoff seeding really matters. Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas are still in battle over the third place spot and avoiding the play in game. Finishing first at least has the certainty of hosting any match they end up in.
With all to play for, there's nothing left but to do it. Tonight the Galaxy missed the offensive creativity of Robbie Keane. Alan Gordon doesn't do well when called on to play a full ninety, and when Gyasi Zardes tried to play the facilitator his efforts were just slightly off. When Arena finally turned to Jose Villarreal and pushed Landon Donovan up top, it was too late and the entire attack was off kilter.
Tonight the LA Galaxy missed Marcelo Sarvas. Landon Donovan alone made key passes in the middle of the pitch, and in fact he was the only player other than Leonardo to create a shot attempt. Between Juninho and Baggio Husidic, there were three passes in the final third.
Seeing this is how the offense ended up playing anyhow, Arena might have been better off putting Donovan at the top of the diamond, with Ishizaki and Husidic as the center mids. While the defense did have to make some major subs with Robbie Rogers and Dan Gargan on the mend, the goals for Dallas weren't a result of bad defensive play. In fact, the club was likely one ill-advised parry by Jaime Penedo away from a draw.
Getting Keane and Sarvas back will go a long way. Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez having a normal week and less fatigue on their legs will go a long way. Clint Dempsey having to do midweek national team duty will go a long way.
It's going to be a long and fun two weeks. The suspense will be terrible, I hope it will last.