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Behold the backlash of Beckham!
by Ridge Mahoney, July 31st, 2007 7AM

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FC Dallas president Michael Hitchcock fired the first salvo in the SuperLiga showdown between his team and the Galaxy, 24 hours before kickoff (8 p.m. ET, TeleFutura, mlslive.tv) at Pizza Hut Park.

The team issued a statement regarding the importance of the match irrespective of David Beckham's presence. While his tender left ankle kept him back in Los Angeles, the game was a sellout in Frisco with only standing-room tickets being sold.

Fans attending the game will receive a special voucher to be used the next time the teams play in Dallas, which could be in this year's playoffs or even the SuperLiga final, though next season is a more realistic possibility.

The Galaxy and FC Dallas are in second and third place of Group A with three and two points, respectively, and both teams need a win to guarantee advancement. They play before Guadalajara (four points) and Pachuca (one point) finish group play in Bridgeview, Ill. (10 p.m. ET, TeleFutura, mlslive.tv), and the only way Pachuca can advance is by winning, so there won't be any manipulation of results.

A tie would eliminate FC Dallas, and so the scenario is nearly ideal: home team needs to win and has the firepower to prevail; cagey road team can play for the counterattack and has its weapons at the ready, Beckham or no Beckham.

Neither team will have the edge in fitness it enjoyed while playing the Mexican foes, and in two games against Dallas this season the Galaxy has lost: 2-1 at home, and 3-1 at Pizza Hut Park.

Since their last meeting June 9 in Dallas, FCD has acquired 19-year-old Brazilian striker Ricardinho and activated Canadian defender Adrian Serioux, and the Galaxy has taken on multiple bodies: Chris Klein, Abel Xavier, Carlos Pavon and Kelly Gray.

The Galaxy elements have yet to jell, and FC Dallas will surely create chances against a midfield and back four still sorting it out. Yet not even a shutout guarantees the Galaxy of moving on, since it beat Pachuca head-to-head but lost to Guadalajara, and in the case of a Pachuca victory over Guadalajara all three teams would be tied with four points and would also be 1-1 in head-to-head encounters. The second tiebreaker is goal difference in all three group games, with goals scored next in line.

Guadalajara can render most of this moot by securing at least a point and this assuring itself of a spot in the semifinals. But in this competition Pachuca has rarely shown the form that has earned it the Copa Sudamericana, CONCACAF Champions Cup and Torneo Clausura in the past eight months. It beat Guadalajara in the CONCACAF Champions Cup finals (in a shootout) and in their last league meeting prevailed, 1-0, at Estadio Jalisco. Its time may be at hand.



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