Western Conference Final Preview: FCD at Galaxy

Western Conference Final Preview: FCD at Galaxy

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On November 12, 2010
  • 2010 MLS Playoffs, David Beckham, David Ferreira, Edson Buddle, Jeff Cunningham, Kevin Hartman, Landon Donovan

Dax McCarty and FC Dallas battle Juninho and LA for the right to play in this year's MLS Cup. (Getty Images)

In a perfect world this would be more fitting of a MLS Cup final rather than just a western conference final. The number one overall and number four overall teams from the season square off in a battle to see who gets the trip to Toronto next week. FC Dallas knocked out the defending champion Real Salt Lake last week while LA was the lone top seed to move on to the conference finals.

Not to knock San Jose or Colorado here but it is a shame that this isn’t the MLS Cup. Two of the best teams from this season battle for the league’s top prize. Dallas hasn’t been in this far in the playoffs in over a decade (1999 to be in fact) while LA has a history of going to and winning the MLS Cup.

One side of the pitch you have a collection of players that most didn’t imagine would be able to pull off the type of season that they did. MLS Coach of the Year Schellas Hyndman was able to patiently get his club where they are at today by making the right choices around the pitch like placing Kevin Hartman in goal and putting the captain’s armband around Daniel Hernandez’s arm.

On the other side of the pitch you have the Supporter’s Shield winners in LA. Their hot start thanks to Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan set up their season. Things cooled off in the summer like we figured they would even with Buddle and Donovan back in uniform after the 2010 World Cup. The Galaxy managed to close out the season on top of the league thanks to some strong midfield play by Juninho and David Beckham.

This one could end up being a defensive battle. Both were near the top in goal-allowed this season with Kevin Hartman and Donovan Ricketts playing very well in goal for each club this season. LA proved last week against Seattle that their defense can hold up to speed with the move of A.J. DeLaGarza into the middle of the defense. Dallas may not have the speed that Seattle has but they do have some playmakers that can cause some issues. LA though has the advantage here having beaten Dallas twice this year, in fact half of Dallas’ losses this season came from LA.

Players to watch: Ferreira, Dax McCarty, George John (Dallas); Beckham, Donovan and Ricketts (LA).

X-Factors: DeLaGarza – His ability to shut down speed for LA was big in the Seattle series but it will be put to the test even more against a savvy offense like FC Dallas has with Cunningham and Ferreira. If he or the rest of the backline cracks any bit against Dallas you can expect the visitors to move on in this playoffs.

Outlook: Which defense cracks first will be the story here. Both are solid but have issues at times. LA did manage to beat Dallas a couple weeks ago but that was a Dallas team without a lot of their main guys. Having Hartman, Hernandez, Brek Shea and Ugo Ihemelu back will make a world of difference from the Texan side. LA still has home field on their side a place that Dallas does not do very well in when playing the Galaxy (Chivas USA may be another story).

Both clubs will counter attack very well, so mistakes in the midfield and defensive-third will be a key thing to watch. LA will likely come out with loads of pressure like they did against Seattle and force Dallas into defensive mistakes.

Part of me wants Dallas to win, obviously since I’ve been covering them for a couple years now. But I know LA will present a big challenge that could be too much for them to over come. At the end of the home field factor and the way LA plays Dallas just leads me to lean towards the Galaxy. After seeing both play in the first round I think LA just looks more dominate. Not to knock what Dallas did against RSL here but I just see LA moving on, possibly in penalty kicks.

WVH Prediction: LA 2, Dallas 1