With Carlos Vela’s injury troubles and Diego Rossi on loan at Fenerbahce, Los Angeles FC have to be thankful for the form of Cristian Arango.
The forward, who signed from Colombian side Millonarios earlier this year, has scored eight goals in 12 MLS appearances so far for LAFC.
That tally includes a double in a 3-1 win over San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, a victory that kept LAFC’s playoff hopes firmly intact.
They sit on 37 points heading into Wednesday’s game with FC Dallas, who are without a win in seven games.
“Chicho has a real presence on the field,” said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. “I think he’s starting to understand better some of our ideas; the way that – we don’t want our attackers to feel like defensively that they are running back all the time.
“But the starting point of our defending, they begin the defending. They are the ones that in certain moments are close to the ball and allow us to press.
“But his presence, just on the field the way he carries himself, his ability to go by people in key moments, score goals – yeah, he’s been excellent.”
Dallas coach Marco Ferruzzi is under no illusions as to the challenge his team face with a playoff-hunting LAFC coming to town.
“They’re extremely aggressive with the ball and without the ball, their first instinct is to counter press and get the ball back as quickly as possible and attack you again,” he said.
“So transitions are going to be huge in this game. It’s something we do well, we’re aware of areas of the field and things they like to do.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
FC Dallas – Ricardo Pepi
After a brilliant breakthrough season, teenage forward Ricardo Pepi is reportedly drawing interest from across Europe, with Bundesliga side Wolfsburg heavily linked. All of his last 12 MLS goals have come in Texas (nine at home, two at Austin FC and one against the Houston Dynamo).
Los Angeles FC – Cristian Arango
Since scoring his first MLS goal on August 28, no player has netted more in the league than Arango, who is tied on eight with Sporting Kansas City’s Johnny Russell.
KEY OPTA FACTS
●LAFC has won two of the last three meetings between the sides, including the first encounter this season.
●LAFC has never won in Dallas, however (D1 L1), one of four opponents they’ve visited more than once and never won (6 at LA Galaxy, 2 at Atlanta United, 2 at Minnesota United).
●Dallas has scored just once in its last three matches, a Pepi goal at home against Kansas City.
●Dallas is winless in seven straight games (D3 L4) since a 5-3 win over Austin FC. Austin is the only team Dallas has defeated since the beginning of August (W2), recording five draws and six losses against all other teams in that span.
●LAFC ended a four-match winless run (D1 L3) with a 3-1 victory over San Jose on Saturday. LAFC has managed just four points from its last eight away matches dating back to late July (W1 D1 L6).