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Crucial games on tap for Dallas and Los Angeles
by Ridge Mahoney, September 28th, 2011 12:11AM

TAGS:  concacaf champions league, mls


[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Strong starts have gone sour for FC Dallas and Los Angeles, which both need wins Wednesday to strengthen their chances of reaching the quarterfinals. Slow-starting Colorado is resting regulars for its game in El Salvador.

Group C: Tauro FC (0-2-2, 2 pts.) vs. FC Dallas (2-1-1, 7 pts.), 8 p.m., Fox Soccer.

Though it has yet to win in this competition, Tauro FC muddled up the group by holding UNAM to a 0-0 tie at home two weeks ago.

The result of this game grew in importance Tuesday when Toronto FC played a 1-1 tie with Pumas at BMO Field; that point moved Toronto (2-2-1, 7 pts.) into a tie for second with FCD. UNAM (2-1-2, 8 pts.) leads the group and plays Tauro at home in the group finale Oct. 19.

Away wins at Toronto and UNAM pushed FC Dallas to the group lead, yet at home it has tied Tauro, 1-1, and last week lost to UNAM, 2-0. Its league form has dipped as well; a 1-0 home loss to Houston last weekend marked its third straight defeat in league play, all by shutout.

FCD’s attack produced enough chances against Houston to get at least a point, but it hit the woodwork three times, had a goal disallowed, and was also thwarted by a goal line clearance. It has scored only one goal in its last six games, yet sooner or later its fortunes must change. Wednesday would be a good occasion.

Group A: Los Angeles Galaxy (2-2-0, 6 pts.) vs. Morelia (3-1-0, 9 pts.), 10 p.m., Fox Soccer, Telefutura.

After winning its first two games at home, the Galaxy has slipped into third place by losing 2-1 at Morelia and 1-0 at Alajuelense. It will have little chance of advancing if it can’t beat the Mexican team, which lost its league match last weekend at Toluca, 2-1, and at 4-4-1 (13 pts.) is 12th in the standings.

Miguel Sabah
, who headed the winning goal against the Galaxy in Morelia, also leads Monarcas with four goals in league play. The loss in Toluca ended a run of eight games unbeaten in all competitions, including three straight in CCL play after a shock 1-0 loss to Alajuelense in the opener.

The Galaxy lost a potential winning goal in Morelia on a badly blown offside call and there were also questions as to whether Morelia’s first goal completely crossed the goal line as it was smothered by keeper Josh Saunders after he’d let it squirm under his body. Yet Coach Bruce Arena and his players admit they defended poorly in the final minutes.

A few regulars, including David Beckham and Robbie Keane, were rested Saturday for a league game in Columbus, which the Galaxy won, 1-0, when Chad Barrett banged home a rebound in the 93rd minute. Saunders, who has kept his spot in the lineup despite his gaffes in Morelia, stoned the Crew several times in the final minutes before Barrett belted home the rebound of a saved Landon Donovan shot.

Donovan’s CCL performances have so far been mediocre; while the Galaxy is close to clinching the Supporters’ Shield as the MLS team with the best overall record, Arena has also stressed the importance of success in the regional club competition. Though this is the penultimate game in group play and won’t in itself be decisive, it is a matchup of MLS against a Mexican team.

Group B: Isidro Metapan (2-2-0, 6 pts.) vs. Colorado Rapids (1-2-1, 4 pts.), 10 p.m. (delayed telecast 12:30 a.m. Fox Soccer.)

Assistant coach Steve Guppy and a team featuring many backups traveled to El Salvador. Keeper Matt Pickens, defender Drew Moor, and midfielders Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni are among the regulars who stayed behind with head coach Gary Smith to prepare for a crucial league match against Dallas Saturday.

Colorado won the first meeting between the teams, 3-2, with a pair of goals by Macoumba Kandji and one by Andre Akpan. Both of them are on this trip, and so is Omar Cummings, so the defense of Metapan – which has conceded 10 goals in its four group games – will come under some pressure.

Despite being shelled by Santos Laguna, 6-0, last week Metapan is in second place and can clinch a spot by winning if Santos beats or ties Real Espana. That game will finish at about the same time Metapan and the Rapids kick off.

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