Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. FC Dallas
Venue: StubHub Center – Saturday, March 4th – 21:00 GMT (16:00 ET)
Match Odds: LA Galaxy 5/4 – Draw 11/5 – Dallas 21/10
LA Galaxy welcome FC Dallas to StubHub Center on Saturday night as two Western Conference powerhouses open their 2017 MLS season in the exact same fixture that closed out their regular season campaigns last term.
FC Dallas lifted the Supporters’ Shield at StubHub after that 0-0 draw last October but neither side fared as well in the MLS Cup Playoffs as they would have liked. However, a new season offers new hope for both, and Saturday’s game offers both sides the chance to get off to the perfect start with a win against a Western Conference rival.
LA Galaxy are set for an intriguing year. Bruce Arena has gone, along with Landon Donovan (again), Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane. Curt Onalfo is the man tasked with getting this new-look Galaxy side ticking as they look to remain a force in the West.
It will surely take time for the Galaxy to click into gear, while injuries have already hurt them before the new season has even kicked off, with Gyasi Zardes, Ashley Cole and Robbie Rogers all sidelined for Saturday’s opener.
For Dallas and Oscar Pareja, the challenge is sustaining last year’s form as they look to finish at the top of the Western Conference for a third-successive year in 2017.
Dallas have proven to be one of the league’s most impressive teams over the past couple of seasons. They develop young players from within, play attacking football and are a real force at home. However, they start the new season on the road and have new players that are still getting used to life in the team.
That said, Dallas have had the advantage of playing competitive football ahead of the new season as they have already played their two-legged CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Arabe Unido. They advanced 5-2 on aggregate – a 4-0 win in the first-leg at Toyota Stadium put them in a very strong position – and will now play in the competition’s semi’s for the first time in club history.
The only downside to that success is that the club has had to travel back from Thursday night’s game in Panama and have only had one day’s rest before their clash in Los Angeles.
These two sides met three times in total last season, twice during the regular season and once in the US Open Cup. Dallas won two of those ties before the two sides played out that 0-0 draw at StubHub Center on the final day of last term. Dallas have not won away at the Galaxy in MLS since 2009.
LA Galaxy are going to have to start the new season without three key players, as Gyasi Zardes, Ashley Cole and Robbie Rogers are all ruled out here. Jermaine Jones, Romain Alessandrini and Joao Pedro could all make their debuts in midfield, with Giovani Dos Santos tasked with firing the side to three points.
FC Dallas will be without Mauro Diaz and Ryan Hollingshead for a lengthy period of time, but have made moves over the offseason to ensure they still have enough depth to compete across all fronts again this season. Cristian Colman has been brought in to score the goals for Dallas and he will start his first MLS game this weekend.
LA Galaxy’s preseason form: D/L/W/L
FC Dallas’ preseason form: D/D/W/W/L
Key Stat: LA Galaxy are unbeaten in nine home games against FC Dallas in regular season play. Dallas have not won in LA since the 2009 season, drawing twice and losing seven times since.
Key Player: Giovani Dos Santos – The Galaxy are far from the force they are used to being – on paper at least – but Dos Santos remains their biggest threat to opposition defences and will be looking to start the new season with a goal in front of the home crowd. If he can inspire his Galaxy teammates, they have a good chance of getting off to a fine start here.
LA Galaxy 1-1 FC Dallas – This could turn out to be a key fixture in the West this season, even if it is on the opening weekend. Dallas might not be at their best considering their CCL commitments on Thursday evening, but still look like the strongest side in the West and will expect to get a point at the very least against a new-look Galaxy side that will need time to gel this term. That said, Curt Onalfo knows that this is a fixture that presents a good opportunity to get the ball rolling and would probably settle for a draw here.