August 26, 2012
FC Dallas streak ends with 2-0 loss to LA
CARSON, Calif.—The LA Galaxy brought FC Dallas’s three-game winning streak to a screeching halt with Sunday’s 2-0 win at the Home Depot Center.
|Fabian Castillo's scoring streak, along with FC Dallas's winning streak came to an end on Sunday.
Photo by Michael Stephens
Juninho capitalized on a defensive miscue to put away the game-winner in the 66th minute, his third goal in as many games and fourth of the season. Todd Dunivant added the capper in the 84th, and goalkeeper Josh Saunders made five saves to post his sixth shutout of the season.
The defending MLS Cup champions continue their resurgent run up the Western Conference table, closing to within three points of third-place Real Salt Lake at 12-11-4 (40 pts). The Hoops remain five points out of playoff-eligible fifth place at 8-12-8 (32).
The Galaxy controlled possession for much of the scoreless first half, stretching FCD’s dogged defense to the limit, but the Hoops met every challenge. Former LA netminder Kevin Hartman set the tone early, diving to pick off David Beckham’s dipping 20-yard free kick before it could sneak into the lower left corner in the fifth minute, and grabbing Mike Magee’s sharp header off Beckham’s corner kick a minute later.
The Galaxy got a break in the 11th minute, when Todd Dunivant sent Fabian Castillo sprawling through the arc while he was chasing down a through ball from David Ferreira. Dunivant got off with a yellow card from referee Kevin Stott, and Jair Benitez was unable to get the free kick past LA’s defensive wall.
Castillo’s day ended early, after Galaxy netminder Josh Saunders blocked his one-on-one shot just outside the left side of the six-yard box and the Dallas forward went sprawling over the endline. Castillo, who brought a three-game scoring streak into Sunday’s game, received treatment from the training staff and returned to the field briefly before sinking to the ground and being replaced by Blas Perez in the 40th minute. Perez, making his first appearance after a 12-game injury layoff, took over the target role from Jackson, whose early play had been plagued by poor passes and rushed, long shots that posed little challenge to Saunders.
Perez’s first contribution, however, after Beckham sent a free kick into the goal box from deep on the left side after a foul on Robbie Keane. Perez cleared the ball out of danger, the first of three late escapes for the Hoops as the clock wound down. In the first minute of stoppage time, George John leaped to get just enough of his head on the ball to nod it away from Magee, who was lurking off the post. And a minute later, Jair Benitez rose above the crowd off the right post to head another dangerous Galaxy cross out of danger.
Perhaps feeling frustrated by FCD’s ability to shut them down in the box before the intermission, the Galaxy played some longball early in the second half, trying to engineer a couple of breakaways against the unprotected Hartman. But the Hoops ‘keeper managed to stay in the right place at the right time, grabbing up the ball just ahead of the charging Keane in the 53rd minute, and blocking it away from Juninho at the edge of the box seconds later.
Meanwhile, Dallas tightened up their game at midfield, but remained unable to generate much danger in the attacking third, Ferreira’s long blast wide of the left post in the 59th minute posing the most serious challenge.
The already-lively pace picked up even more around the hour mark, starting with Keane’s dangerous foray to the top of the penalty area, where he eluded one defender and sent a shot just wide of the left post. Minutes later, the Dallas defense cleared away two Beckham corner kicks, sending Jackson forward on a counterattack off the second one. The Brazilian fed the ball through to Ferreira, who got past Sean Franklin in the box, but had his shot blocked at close range by Saunders.
In the 66th minute, however, the Dallas defense crumbled for an instant, and the Galaxy made them pay dearly. Hartman advanced to the top of the penalty area to face down breaking Galaxy forward Jose Villareal, but misjudged the play, letting the LA youngster take the ball almost to the end line before cutting the ball back through the empty box for Juninho for an easy finish. Although Hartman recovered to stop a dangerous shot from Beckham and pick off Keane’s pass through the center for the wide-open Villareal, and his defenders went back to disrupting the Galaxy’s attacking rhythm, the damage was done, and the LA defense remained formidable. Saunders leaped to punch Ferreira’s cross into the six-yard box well upfield in the 74th minute, Jackson saw back-to-back shots blocked in the 76th, and Perez sent a long attempt straight at Saunders in the 81st.
Dunivant put things on ice for the Galaxy in the 84th, finding an unguarded spot outside the top left corner of the six-yard box and quickly poking a pass from Michael Stephens under Hartman and into the right inside netting.