The return of their captain and additions of two international stars have the Los Angeles Galaxy poised for another MLS Cup run.
That fortified lineup figures to be tested when the Galaxy head to Toyota Stadium on Saturday night to face one of the league’s best home teams in FC Dallas.
This marquee matchup pits two of the Western Conference’s top sides, and both are in good form. Los Angeles (11-7-7) has won four of five in league play to move within two points of first-place Vancouver, while Dallas (11-6-5) had ripped off five straight victories in MLS action before a 2-0 loss at Chicago on Aug. 2 in its last match.
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Dallas sits two points behind the Galaxy in third but has three games in hand.
The clubs’ only meeting this year came May 9 when Los Angeles fell 2-1 in Frisco, where Dallas is 8-1-2 and has won four straight. Neither forward Giovani dos Santos nor midfielder Steven Gerrard were with the Galaxy at the time, though, and top striker Robbie Keane was out with a groin injury.
Keane has been on a tear lately, scoring eight of his team-best 11 goals during the 4-1-0 stretch. Dos Santos, signed last month from Spanish club Villareal, contributed a goal and an assist in his MLS debut in Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Seattle. Gerrard, the former Liverpool star, has a goal and two assists in four games since joining the Galaxy last month.
"Everyone’s feeling good right now, we’re healthy and we’re ready to get on the road and hopefully come back with three points," defender Omar Gonzalez told the Galaxy’s official website.
Road success has been hard to come by for the Galaxy, however. They were 0-6-5 as the visitors before a 3-1 win over last-place Colorado Aug. 1.
The reigning MLS Cup champions are 0-3-1 in Frisco since last winning there July 28, 2012.
Dallas had outscored opponents 13-2 during its five-game surge, with Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz and Michael Barrios all notching three goals over the stretch. FCD has surrendered just 10 at home in league play but faces a Galaxy squad that leads MLS with 42 goals.
Dallas also heads into Saturday at full strength with forward Blas Perez and midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson both returning from national team duty at the month-long Gold Cup. Perez scored five goals, including one in the May 9 win over Los Angeles, in 14 games before leaving to compete for Panama.
"(Having) the whole squad is great for me," coach Oscar Pareja told the team’s official website. "It’s not a feeling that I had last year too much or too many times and this year, until now, due to international calls. To now have them all available is fantastic."