When all else is even, sometimes it’s the mistakes the matter most. On Sunday at the Home Depot Center, the Galaxy made the most of their opponents mistakes beating FC Dallas 2-0 on goals by Juninho and Todd Dunivant.
After a scoreless first half in which both teams spent a majority of the half beating each other up through midfield, Galaxy substitute Jose Villarreal dispossessed FC Dallas’ Matt Hedges as the defender dwelled on the ball a bit too long, putting the teenager in clear on his own net. With only the goalkeeper to beat, Villarreal rounded Kevin Hartman at the far left of the FC Dallas penalty area and played a simple square ball for his onrushing teammate, Juninho, to finish with the simplest of tap-ins in the match’s 66th minute.
“The defender was caught asleep and I managed to pressure him pretty hard. It bounced off my foot and I took a touch right around the keeper. I saw Juninho [with an] open shot and I just passed it to him,” said Villarreal of the sequence.
The set up was a pure hustle play by Villarreal, who has provided LA with a spark of the bench now on multiple occasions since making his debut midway through the season. And while Juninho gets credit for the goal, LA Galaxy Head Coach Bruce Arena singled out his young forward specifically for praise.
“[It was] really alert play to help set up the first goal and really just a solid 30 minutes. [Villarreal] did quite well,” said Arena after the match.
Up 1-0, the Galaxy defense of Sean Franklin, AJ De La Garza, Omar Gonzalez and Dunivant held strong with the help of some key interventions by goalkeeper Josh Saunders, and even found a goal by way of Dunivant to ice the match in the 84th minute.
Lulling the FC Dallas defense to sleep near the left corner of Dallas’ penalty area with a sequence of short passes intended to run out the clock, another second half substitute, Michael Stephens, had the presence of mind to pick out Dunivant as he ghosted in behind the FC Dallas back line. Dunivant’s angled left-footed shot evaded Hartman and nestled into the side net to up the Galaxy advantage to 2-0 with just six minutes remaining in regular time.
“I saw a good opportunity to get forward and Mike Stephens put a good ball in and they kind of looked away and let me through and it was just me and the keeper, so I was fortunate enough to put it in and took a little pressure off of us and kind of seal up the game,” said Dunivant.
The win gives the Galaxy sole possession of the 4th spot in the Western Conference and keeps them just three points behind 2nd and 3rd placed Seattle and Real Salt Lake. Their next match is Wednesday in CONCACAF Champions League group play against the Puerto Rico Islanders before taking on the 5th place Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.