CARSON, Calif. – Two goals in the last half-hour allowed the LA Galaxy to claim full points from hard-charging FC Dallas, putting the defending champions eight points into a Western Conference playoff spot.
Man of the Match: Juninho’s work in the first half, often drawing the assignment of keeping tabs on David Ferreira, helped Los Angeles win the midfield battle over the first 30 minutes. Given how quiet Dallas’s best player was for most of the half, it was only appropriate Juninho be the man to break through late, his 66th minute goal proving the game-winner.
Packaged for takeaway:
As hinted earlier, Landon Donovan sat out this one, still nursing his hamstring back to health. That meant two of the games’ three starting forwards were Jackson and Mike Magee, two players with a virtues deeper in the formation, not as many in out-and-out attacking roles.
Unfortunately, that meant a lack of chances on goal in the first half. Dallas’s best threats were wide (Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo), but with Los Angeles controlling much of the play, David Ferreira was unable to bring them into the game until just after the 30-minute mark.
For the Galaxy, the first half’s best chance came off a litany of restarts (corners, direct kicks) conceded by Dallas in their final third. You would think eight LA restarts in one half (unofficial count) is enough for the David Beckham-Omar Gonzalez combination to do some damage. Kevin Hartman, however, went relatively untested, with George John and Matt Hedges leading some (mostly) strong set piece defending.
Dallas started to create some havoc after a half hour when Shea and Castillo switched flanks, allowing each to cut onto their stronger foot. Castillo, in particular, really came into the game, with Ferriera playing him through the Galaxy defense. Unfortunately for Dallas, the tactic led to an early end to Castillo’s evening, a collision with Josh Saunders forcing him from the game in the 41st minute.
The substitution brought Blas Perez in, the Dallas striker still recovering from a right foot injury. He didn’t look anywhere near 100 percent, at times walking gingerly, a hitch apparent in his gait when he tried to hit full speed.
In the second half, the game opened up, with both sides getting their chances to take runs at the opposing defense. For Dallas, it was Ferreira leading the charge through the middle, though balls played wide never came back in dangerous spots. For LA, passes behind a high Dallas line gave Robbie Keane a chance to craft a final ball, though his passes toward the six-yard box were easily cleared.
It wasn’t until a somewhat freak play in the 66th minute that LA broke through. Hedges, trying to play a ball into midfield, saw his pass blocked by Jose Villarreal. Hartmen tried to get to a ball rolling in the left of his penalty area, but Villarreal, winning the race, was able to play a ball across the top of the six for Juninho, who finished high into the right of goal.
LA would add a late Todd Dunivant goal (a nice piece of work between the LA left back, Keane, and Michael Stephens), leaving a final score that exaggerates the distance between the teams. For much of the game, Dallas seemed just as likely to find an opener as their hosts. With the teams going back and forth at the beginning of the second half without generating good chances, it looked like the match was destined to end 0-0.
Instead LA gets full points and opens up an eight-point gap on sixth-place Dallas. Only two points behind Seattle and Real Salt Lake, the Galaxy can worry less about if they’ll make the playoffs and more about where they’ll be slotted.
For Dallas, they stay five points behind the Whitecaps, but time is running out. Vancouver has a match in hand, and Dallas is down to six matches left in their season. Had they won, they would have been within two of the Galaxy and Whitecaps.
Transfer rumor roundup: Schurrle to Newcastle, Spurs
Newcastle United reportedly leads the pack for the former Chelsea scorer, who is struggling to get time at BVB thanks to a glut of fantastic wingers including Christian Pulisic.
Magpies boss Rafa Benitez has a good relationship with the Westfalenstadion set, having taken Mikel Merino off their hands in August. Newcastle currently uses Christian Atsu on the left wing and Matt Ritchie on the right, but Schurrle can play center forward and Benitez may prefer to use the 27-year-old in the middle of his trident.
But they’ll face competition, and HITC says BVB is willing to pay half of his wages on an 18-month deal to keep him reasonable for some clubs. This could be a boon for Spurs.
Newcastle and Stoke City have also been linked with Galatasaray midfielder Papa “Badou” Ndiaye, with the Magpies said to have bid just a bit higher than the Potters but still under Gala’s buyout clause.
And here’s a wild one, according to ESPN: Chelsea’s rumored pursuit of current Premier League scorers now includes Marko Arnautovic. The audacious Austrian attacker cost West Ham around $35 million when his head was turned from Stoke City in the summer.
He didn’t perform well but Slaven Bilic, but David Moyes has been able to get some fine performances from the powerful Arnautovic. Chelsea has previously been linked with West Ham teammate Andy Carroll, Burnley’s Ashley Barnes, and Stoke’s Peter Crouch as it attempts to find a center forward to ease the burden placed on Alvaro Morata in his first Premier League season.
Voted “the best right back” in Europe between 1962-64, the former England and Blackpool captain also had a successful management and broadcasting career.
Armfield was a member of the 1962 and 1966 World Cup squads, though a toe injury kept him from his place in the starting lineup when England won the tournament.
He spent his entire playing career with Blackpool before managing Bolton Wanderers to promotion and Leeds United to the European Cup Final, righting the ship after Brian Clough’s infamous spell in charge of the club.
There’s a statue outside Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, and the club legend has a stand named after him inside the venue.
While Zach’s night was certainly a memorable one for many reasons, it was Julie that arguably had the better performance — which included a goal in the 19th minute off of a close-range volley.
The USWNT had trailed through 14 minutes, but a combination of goals from Alex Morgan and Ertz in a span of two minutes quickly erased the deficit.
For Morgan, it was her 80th goal for the Stars and Stripes.
Meanwhile, a second-half brace from teenage sensation Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn’s finish with nine minutes to play proved to be the icing on the cake for Jill Ellis’ side, who kicked off 2018 with a bang.