LAFC_Dallas_102021_Web_Preview

LAFC at FC Dallas

Wednesday, Oct. 20

5:00 p.m. PT

TV: Bally’s Sports SoCal, Estrella TV

RADIO: ESPN LA 1110 AM, ESPN App (Audio), KFWB 980 AM

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This is the true definition of crunch time. The MLS season is rapidly coming to its conclusion with five games remaining – and LAFC with 37 still on the outside looking in when it comes to a spot in the playoffs. But only five points separate the ninth-place Black & Gold and fifth place Real Salt Lake, ensuring that the drama of 2021 will go down to the final minutes of Decision Day on Nov. 7. 

LAFC kicks off one of the most important road trips in Club history, travelling to Texas to take on FC Dallas on Oct. 20 and then straight to Minneapolis to face Minnesota United on Saturday, Oct. 23 in what loom as must-win matches. 

“We talked about how important these games are in this stretch,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “Now we’ve got some momentum and we look to carry that into these next two games.”

The Black & Gold got some momentum rolling on Oct. 16 with a 3-1 home win over the San Jose Earthquakes behind two goals from Cristian Arango despite missing Eduard Atuesta and Carlos Vela to injury and losing Francisco Ginella to a knee injury at halftime. 

“We hung in there,” Bradley said. We obviously got some really big plays, including some really good efforts going forward from [Diego Palacios] to help us push and then a very good play from Brian [Rodriguez] to set up [Arango] for the third goal.”

LAFC will need strong overall performances from their team in Dallas, as they will once again be short-handed and looking for a crucial victory in a stadium where they have never won. LAFC is 0-1-1 in Toyota Park, and since 2018, FC Dallas has only lost a league-low total of seven matches at home. 

LAFC downed FC Dallas 2-0 at Banc of California Stadium in the teams first meeting on June 23.

FC DALLAS IN-DEPTH

This has been a difficult season for Dallas. They started off poorly, and had to fight through injury difficulties while struggling to create consistent meaningful chances on goal. All of this led to head coach Luchi Gonzalez losing his job on Sept. 20 with Director of Soccer Operations Marco Ferruzzi taking over. Since then, Dallas has gone 0-2-1 (W-L-T) and been outscored 4-1.

But Dallas does have talent – led by breakout U.S. National Team star Ricardo Pepi, who at 18-years old has burst onto the scene and has 13 goals and two assists in 27 matches this season. Attempting to limit Pepi will be the key for LAFC, as the forward is a hard worker who runs well into the box and is able to get himself into dangerous positions – and more importantly – has exhibited clinical finishing. Along with Jader Obrian, Jesus Ferreria and Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas will attempt to maintain possession and build the attack through quick passing.

REVOLVING DOOR

LAFC has been crushed with injuries and various absences throughout 2021, and as the season draws to a close – eight players are listed on the Black & Gold injury list – including such key contributors and All-Stars such as Carlos Vela, Eduard Atuesta, Eddie Segura and Francisco Ginella. This season, LAFC has only used the same starting lineup on two different occasions. The same starting lineup played in the May 22 win over Colorado and the May 29 loss to NYCFC, and then Bob Bradley was able to use a similar lineup on July 7 vs Atlanta and July 17 against Real Salt Lake.

With Ginella injured on Oct. 16 vs. San Jose, Bradley is expected to field a different squad again vs. FC Dallas.

LAFC WILL WIN IF

LAFC can counter press effectively and execute in their opponent’s box. The Black & Gold will lean on Cristian Arango, who has contributed to 68 percent of all LAFC goals since his arrival on Aug. 8 to team up with Brian Rodriguez to take advantage of opportunities. The balance of the game will essentially be decided if LAFC can keep Dallas from building out of the back and then clinically finishing chances that arise from that pressure and limit Ricardo Pepi.

FC DALLAS CAN WIN IF

Their young studs such as Ricardo Pepi outperform LAFC’s short-handed lineup, they can run away with the match.

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