By Will Martin
Oscar Pareja had a decision to make prior to his teams match with the Los Angeles Galaxy. With the Seattle Sounders on the schedule for September 24 at Toyota Stadium the burning question was whether or not to play Matt Hedges and Fabian Castillo?
Coach opted to rest his top scorer and defensive leader aware of the challenge that lies ahead when Seattle comes to town. This meant Kellyn Acosta and Ryan Holingshead would get to enjoy spot duty on the right side of the field when action commenced at StubHub Center.
At stake for the Galaxy was the chance to tie the Seattle Sounders for points in the West, laying claim to the Supporters Shield, and clinching a playoff spot once the regular season ended. Those two teams will face one another the last two weeks of the season to determine who the better team happens to be in the Western Conference.
Landon Donovan returned after serving a suspension. Jaime Penedo also returned to playing goalie.
Win or lose FC Dallas was safely meshed in fourth place with a two game cushion over the fifth place Portland Timbers and one game (points-wise) behind Real Salt Lake for third.
On September 20 in Los Angeles, it would be a scoreless affair in the first half despite scoring chances for Gyasi Zardes in the 26th and 42nd minutes when a redirect went into the arms of El Matador Raul Fernandez and a header flew above the crossbar.
Despite being down two players it was Team Pareja who would strike first in the 54th minute when Blas Perez would collect his ninth goal of the season and third in two games, assisted by Andres Escobar for an early lead.
Gyasi Zardes would assist Robbie Keane to find the net some eight minutes later after Victor Ulloa had difficulties in keeping his feet with the ball in front of him. Keane took the feed as the kick would rifle off the hands of Raul Fernandez for a 1-1 tie after 62 minutes.
The Galaxy would then get the go-ahead goal in the 83 minute when Alan Gordon-one month removed from a trade with the Earthquakes of San Jose-would knock a header into the net after a perfect cross from Robbie Keane for a 2-1 lead and your subsequent final score.
FC Dallas was dominated on the stats sheet from shots (19-9) to corners (6-0) to fouls (17-7) to crosses (29-9). Coming into this game Oscar Pareja knew he had a game to toy with before the Sounders come to Frisco for an 8pm game at Toyota Stadium.
The return of Clint Dempsey and a Sounders team that is playoff bound with much to play for. Five games remain in the regular season for FC Dallas. They have an opportunity to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Fourth place is currently theirs. The challenge now is to gain points and keep from losing. The rematch with Seattle will be the first meeting here since a warm and windy April 12 night when shots on goal favored each team with the wind at their back. A 2-1 FC Dallas halftime lead disappeared when Clint Dempsey proceeded to have a two goal game on the heels of a hat trick one week prior in Portland with the Timbers.
After the Sounders game FC Dallas and Coach Pareja get to enjoy a ten day break before closing out the regular season with a road trip to Vancouver on October 4. Two more home games in Frisco. Two final chances to catch the Red For 90 Crew before we proceed to (we are hoping) a playoff run.
9/24 vs Seattle Sounders 8 pm
10/4 @Vancouver Whitecaps 6 pm
10/12 vs L.A. Galaxy 6 pm
10/18 @Colorado Rapids 2 pm
10/25 vs Portland Timbers 7:30 pm
The Galaxy (15-5-9 54 points with the victory now enjoy an eight game win streak as the regular season winds down. FC Dallas (13-10-6 45 points) with the loss now sits nine points back in the West.